Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas is hopeful that he will be able to get some injured stars such as Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro back for the Soweto Derby against Orlando Pirates on Saturday.
Solinas was a relieved man on Sunday after the Amakhosi survived a penalty shoot-out in the Telkom Knockout last-16 against Black Leopards on Sunday at the FNB Stadium.
Chiefs were held to a 1-1 draw after extra time, but Virgil Vries was the hero. with two saves as the hosts won 4-2.
But having advanced to the quarter-finals, it’s back to the bread-and-butter of the Absa Premiership, and it’s not just any old league match.
The bragging rights in Soweto – and three log points – are at stake, and Solinas is waiting to see if his strike-force will be bolstered after Billiat (back) and Castro (ankle) missed the Leopards match.
Bernard Parker, though, did a good job upfront and was the Man of the Match against Leopards.
Dumsani Zuma was also not ready to play, and the back division was also affected by the absence of Siyabonga Ngezana and Daniel Cardoso.
Of course, the likes of Lebogang Manyama (elbow) and Joseph Molangoane (broken leg) are medium-to-long-term injury casualties.
“The Derby is a special game, for the coach, the players, the club and the supporters. So, from tomorrow, we start the preparation for the derby. It is a very difficult game because Pirates are a very good team, and they have a fantastic coach,” Solinas told SuperSport after the match.
“But we are fighting for a very good game. If we can get Khama, Castro, Zuma, Ngezana…”
Chiefs, though, will have gained some confidence after coming through the nightmare of a penalty shoot-out on Sunday.
They would’ve thought they would need just 90 minutes to see off Leopards, but Pakhutshedzo Nange had other ideas and put Lidoda Duvha in the lead in the 34th minute.
Hendrick Ekstein equalised in the 63rd minute, but there were no further goals in extra time either.
“I am happy with the result, but not with the performance in the first half. We knew it would be tough. Even Real Madrid or Barcelona would have difficulties without so many starters. Besides that, Leopards are a good side that play with energy and enthusiasm,” Solinas told the Chiefs website.
“The team played without a clear idea and there was too much distance between the various departments, like between defence and midfield.
“We didn’t play compact. Leopards exposed that space and that’s why they created a few chances in the first half, besides scoring the goal.
#TK02018 Quarter-final draw tomorrow night:
Seeded clubs already confirmed. @Masandawana @orlandopirates@KaizerChiefs @MaritzburgUtd
Watch the draw live after the @AmaZuluFootball v @CapeTownCityFC match
“We improved in the second half and we moved the ball around differently. I have respect for the guys who played today. They did well, and I appreciated the team spirit.”
Solinas added that Vries started instead of Itumeleng Khune in goal due to “normal rotation”, saying that “we have two very good international goalkeepers”.
But Khune is sure to be between the sticks against Pirates on Saturday.