Popular Italian Solinas officially back at Free State Stars to replace Lavagne

30 September 2016 - 13:37 By Marc Strydom

Italian coach Giovanni Solinas has officially returned to Free State Stars‚ the Premier Soccer League club announced on their website on Friday. Solinas will replace Frenchman Denis Lavagne‚ the first coaching casualty in the PSL this season after just three matches.The popular‚ likeable Solinas‚ surprisingly left Stars just after the completion of last season‚ having steered them to a creditable 12th place in the league‚ and a competitive 4-2 Nedbank Cup semifinal defeat to Orlando Pirates.The Italian cited personal reasons for resigning.Stars’ sacking of Lavagne and his assistant Phillip Ciccarini last week after just three games – two defeats and a draw – came as something of a shock. However‚ the promptness with which the club has brought back Solinas appears to indicate the Italian had been contacted before Lavagne’s dismissal‚ and was waiting in the wings.Stars stated on their website on Friday: “Free State Stars are delighted to announce the return of former head coach Giovanni Solinas to Goble Park.“Solinas‚ who resigned at the end of last season due to family issues‚ replaces Frenchman Denis Lavagne.“The Italian impressed in his previous stint in Bethlehem‚ and cut a popular figure among the players and club management before his shock resignation.”The website quotes Stars’ general manager Rantsi Mokoena as saying: “We as a club are delighted to reunite with Giovanni Solinas. He is one of those coaches respected by many in the football fraternity for his good brand of football.“Solinas was an automatic preference after we parted ways with Lavagne‚ as our players liked and understood his football philosophy.“With the two-week break before our next match it will give him ample time to build up a strong team that will at least start winning matches starting with the next match against Maritzburg United.“We are happy his family matters are now resolved and he will start his duties immediately … .“Themba Sithole‚ who was in charge of the last two matches will return to his duties at the development team.”Lavagne becomes first coaching casualty of PSL season after Stars show him the doorFrenchman Denis Lavagne became the first coaching casualty of the new Premier Soccer League (PSL) season when he was shown the door by Free State Stars on Thursday. Stars’ perennial caretaker-coach Sithole oversaw a 0-0 away draw against SuperSport United then 2-0 home defeat against Kaizer Chiefs on Wednesday night.Under Lavagne Stars lost 2-1 against Chippa United away‚ drew 0-0 against Bloemfontein Celtic at home and lost 1-0 to Lamontville Golden Arrows at home.Solinas has until Stars’ next game against Maritzburg at Goble Park on October 15 to work on his side‚ as Ea Lla Koto – in 14th place on the early PSL log – go in search of their first win of the season. - TMG Sport

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