Chiefs coach Solinas in buoyant mood ahead of derby clash against Pirates
Saturday’s Soweto derby is not just a game – it is “The Game”‚ Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas has said‚ even adding that it should be spelled with a capital ‘G’.
In a reflection of what is at stake as Chiefs meet Pirates for the second time this season‚ in Saturday’s Telkom Knockout semifinal at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium‚ Solinas admitted that for Amakhosi‚ and perhaps himself‚ the matchup is a particularly big one.
Solinas lost his first derby‚ 2-1 in the league at FNB Stadium on October 27. And derby defeats never go down too well for Chiefs’ success-hungry supporters.
Added to that‚ Amakhosi have not won a trophy in three-and-a-half seasons now.
Solinas‚ in his first season‚ has already spurned one chance to rectify that by losing over two legs of the MTN8 semifinals.
He will know that‚ with Chiefs’ league form a mixed bag to see Amakhosi in fifth place in the Absa Premiership despite some strong signings‚ a second semifinal exit of the season – especially at the hands of Pirates – will make his position at Naturena just that bit more tenuous.
He admitted as much‚ saying at Thursday’s pre-derby press conference at the Premier Soccer League (PSL) offices in Parktown: “But this is not a game – this is ‘The Game’. This is the game with a capital letter ‘G’.
“Chiefs against Pirates is ‘The Game’. It is a very important game.
“And we arrive in this game much better than last time. Because last time we had players injured‚ we had players not training for five or six days.
“For example Khama [Billiat] – we had a problem with Khama‚ who had not trained for six days. He trained only on the day before the derby.
“In the last derby we did not have Lebogang Manyama.
“But generally the condition in the last derby was not good. Now it’s much better because all players are available.
“The fitness of the players is OK. This for me is very big positive.
“You know we are Kaizer Chiefs. Kaizer Chiefs need to play to win.”
Saturday’s semifinal will be staged in Durban as FNB Stadium was unavailable due to a clash with and already-booked prayer meeting.