JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs fans might have a bit of a tough time seeing things from Giovanni Solinas’s point of view at the moment, but the coach says Amakhosi are in better shape to face their rivals Orlando Pirates tomorrow afternoon than they were the last time the two Soweto giants clashed.
Ahead of their Telkom Knockout semi-final at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, the Italian mentor said injuries and perhaps even a lack of belief due to some poor results had contributed to their 2-1 Absa Premiership defeat to the Buccaneers almost a month ago at FNB Stadium.
“I think we will arrive in this game, which is very important, much better than the last derby,” said Solinas, recalling how Amakhosi had gone three matches in all competitions without a win prior to losing to Pirates on October 27.
“At the time we had injuries, we had players that had not trained for five or six days - for example, Khama (Billiat) only recovered the day before the match after he did not train for six days. We also did not have Lebo Manyama (car accident), and generally our condition was not good.
“Now it is much better because all the players are available, the fitness is okay and for me this is positive. We are Kaizer Chiefs and you know that we play to win.”
Solinas did not downplay the fact that the consequences could be dire should he fail to reach - and win - next month's cup final. But that his side almost has a clean bill of health, Joseph Molangoane and Wiseman Meyiwa the exceptions, before what he described as a “game with a capital G” is obviously a boost.
“We obviously took lessons from the last derby,” the coach said. “That derby taught us that we need more of a fighting spirit and a lot more concentration, which will be needed again because cup games can be decided on penalties.
“I think we played well, but when we look at the last derby we realise we need to also focus more on details. We were good in the first 20 minutes (Billiat scoring the opener in that period), but we then lost the manner in which we should play football.
“But I have seen my boys improve a lot after this.”
Following the defeat to Pirates in the league, Amakhosi bounced back to beat SuperSport United in the quarter-finals, narrowly defeat Black Leopards in the league and labour to a goalless draw with Chippa United.
“The fighting spirit and the concentration improved - we did not concede a goal in our last three games. So we took our lessons and moved on,” Solinas said.@superjourno