JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs moved within a point of new Absa Premiership leaders Orlando Pirates, securing their third win in succession on Saturday night as the Giovanni Solinas era begins to take shape.
Khama Billiat, who received a bow from his Italian coach in their midweek win over Free State Stars, was again instrumental – but so were many others in a 2-0 victory against AmaZulu at the FNB Stadium.
It was a fitting way for Solinas to finally earn his first league win at home this season.
The Chiefs attack was sharp and pierced through their visitors like a hot knife through butter, but it was defenders who scored the two goals.
Ramahlwe Mphahlele broke the deadlock when he benefited from AmaZulu’s clumsy attempt to kick the ball out of the danger zone, the Chiefs right back blasting the ball home just on the stroke of halftime.
Before that, striker Bernard Parker and centrehalf Daniel Cardoso had come close to giving Amakhosi the lead, but fluffed their chances.
Parker tried to score with his chest when connecting with a cross from Mphahlele, and Cardoso was unfortunate to see his shot struck the woodwork and then back into play.
Chiefs asserted their authority from the beginning, and this was proof that Solinas is beginning to turn them into a well-oiled machine.
The Glamour Boys’ first win of the league campaign came after five false starts for the coach.
The 4-1 thumping of Cape Town City away last weekend was immediately followed by another win on the road at Stars, where Solinas was brave enough to make seven changes and still managed to get all three points, Chiefs scoring two goals there as well.
AmaZulu came here hopeful and eager to show that their 3-3 draw at home against the reigning Premier League champions Mamelodi Sundowns was no fluke.
Chiefs overwhelmed them with their pressing and Billiat’s presence upfront.
The game was beyond their reach when defender Siyabonga Ngezana headed home the second goal three minutes before the hour-mark.
Billiat, who played role of provider on the night and took a break from carrying the scoring responsibility, spotted him in the box, and the big centrehalf did the rest.
What is also positive for Solinas is that Amakhosi kept a second clean sheet in a row, which was rare in their earlier games this season because the coach seemed more focused on outscoring the opposition than defending a lead.
If they can consistently manage to both score and keep it watertight at the back, then he may have been on to something when he claimed the best of Chiefs is yet to come. It’s good signs so far, having endured a poor start.