JOHANNESBURG – “My colleague is Micho, and he is professional. Me, I respect my colleague.”
With these words, Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas hit back at Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena following remarks he made on Monday that the Amakhosi mentor lacked the “tactical expertise” possessed by his predecessor Steve Komphela.
Micho Sredojevic is the head coach at Pirates and his response on Wednesday afternoon in a joint press conference between the two sides was that Mokwena’s words were taken out of context, but he did not elaborate further.
Mokwena had said Komphela’s resignation in April was a big loss to Chiefs when asked how the two teams had improved since they last met seven months ago.
“They have improved drastically in terms of their playing personnel to make up for the lack of tactical expertise on the bench,” the Buccaneers said earlier this week.
Pressed for a response, Solinas did not want to be drawn into the debate around whether he was a better coach than Komphela or not.
“I can’t respond to this question,” he said initially. “My colleague is Micho, and he is professional and I am also professional. Me, I respect my colleague. Full stop. I feel nothing; I am okay, no problem. Me, I am not interested in this.”
The Chiefs coach then suggested that maybe journalists were being mischievous.
“Maybe these are mind games. But the derby needs everyone to be calm, without extra pressure.
We need to be focused on the details and tactics not this. I don’t know him (Mokwena), but maybe the journalists created this. It’s a surprise, normally the coaches don’t talk in this manner.
Maybe the journalist made this story.”