Soli­nas could field his tried and tested

Chiefs coach un­der pressure to de­liver

Sunday World - - Sport - By Sihle Nde­bele

Mak­ing seven changes on the back of drub­bing Cape Town City 4-1 and still man­ag­ing a vic­tory at Free State Stars three days later demon­strates that Kaizer Chiefs coach Gio­vanni Soli­nas trusts al­most all his play­ers and be­lieves in a ro­ta­tion sys­tem.

Nev­er­the­less, let­ting the MTN8 slip through his fin­gers af­ter fal­ter­ing in the semi­fi­nals at the hands of Su­perS­port United last month may com­pel Soli­nas to give to­day’s (3.30pm) Telkom Knock­out quar­ter­fi­nal en­counter against Black Leop­ards at the FNB Sta­dium a full go by field­ing his tried and tested play­ers.

With this match be­ing the first af­ter the Fifa break, where key play­ers like Itume­leng Khune, Khama Bil­liat and Ramahlwe Mphahlele only linked up with the team on Thurs­day, surely the Amakhosi men­tor would have loved to rest them, espe­cially be­cause his next match is the much-an­tic­i­pated Soweto derby against arch-foes Or­lando Pi­rates on Satur­day.

But be­cause of des­per­a­tion to guide the club to their first tro­phy in three sea­sons, Soli­nas is likely to aban­don his ro­ta­tion pol­icy when he needs it the most against Li­doda Du­vha this af­ter­noon.

Bil­liat faces a late fit­ness test af­ter re­turn­ing from the Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fiers [where he fea­tured in two matches for Zim­babwe] with a back strain.

While feel­ing that pressure will be on the Soweto gi­ants to win, Leop­ards coach Joel Ma­sutha has vowed his troops will fight.

He said: “The pressure is on Chiefs, they are a big team and they are ex­pected to win. But we are not go­ing there just to hon­our the match, we are go­ing to fight.”

In 2016, dur­ing his ten­ure at Ea Lla Koto, Soli­nas man­aged to ad­vance to the semi­fi­nals of the Telkom Knock­out.

He has high hopes he can do more than that with the Glam­our Boys this sea­son.

“This is my sec­ond Telkom Knock­out par­tic­i­pa­tion. The first one was when I was coach­ing Free State Stars and we reached the semi­fi­nals but lost it to Cape Town City.

“So, me, I want to im­prove on that achieve­ment. It’s dif­fi­cult be­cause the op­po­nent is very strong,” said Soli­nas.

A n to n i o Muchave /

Black Leop­ards coach Joel Ma­sutha.

/ Shaun Roy/Gallo Images

Kaizer Chiefs coach Gio­vanni Soli­nas.

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