JOHANNESBURG - The weakened Kaizer Chiefs starting line-up fielded in Sunday's Telkom Knockout last 16 cup tie at home against Black Leopards was forced by injuries and not due to players being rested for the Soweto Derby, coach Giovanni Solinas said.
Amakhosi progressed to the quarterfinals of the tournament following a 4-2 win on penalties after the two sides were locked at 1-1 after extra time. Solinas was criticised for again making as many as seven changes, which appeared as though he was prioritising the upcoming Absa Premiership fixture against rivals Orlando Pirates on Saturday ahead of a win in the cup.
“I knew this was going to be a tough game for us without six key players,” Solinas, who had to negotiate his way past Leopards without Itumeleng Khune, Siyabonga Ngezana, Dumisani Zuma, Khama Billiat, Leonardo Castro and Lebo Manyama.
“Even for Real Madrid or Barcelona it’s difficult to play without their best players. It’s not good when you don’t have all these players together. For instance, Zuma is a talented player, a very good player, but we missed him in this match.”
Khune was on the bench, while the rest of the other players were left out due to injuries and possibly fatigue after some of them were involved with their respective national teams last week during the Fifa week.
“You can change one or two players, but you have to keep your structure. But we have had bad luck with injuries to our players and it’s not finished for us. Black Leopards is a good team and when a team comes from the NFD I am always very careful because they improve their performance,” said Solinas.