The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MOHAU RAMASHIDJA

GIO­VANNI SOLI­NAS’S res­ig­na­tion as Free State Stars coach yes­ter­day has some­how given cre­dence to spec­u­la­tion that he will be tak­ing charge of Orlando Pirates.

The Buc­ca­neers have been coach­less since Muhsin Er­tu­gral’s de­par­ture in a huff fol­low­ing the hu­mil­i­at­ing 6-1 de­feat they suf­fered at Su­perS­port United in Novem­ber.

And among the names that have been bandied about as pos­si­ble re­place­ment for the club that is un­der the tem­po­rary guid­ance of Au­gusto Pala­cios has been that of the Ital­ian, who was in his sec­ond spell at Ea Lla Koto.

Pirates’ ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer Floyd Mbele, how­ever, pleaded ig­no­rance.

“The last time I checked, Soli­nas had a con­tract with Free State Stars,” he said yes­ter­day. “It’s only now that I’m hear­ing from you that he has parted ways with them.”

Mbele said Pirates’ con­tin­ued search for a new coach to lead the team go­ing into the sec­ond round didn’t rely solely on any spe­cific in­di­vid­ual be­ing sud­denly avail­able for the post.

“It’s a work in progress (the search for a coach),” Mbele said. “I can­not tell you who we are hoping to rope in at the mo­ment, but I can as­sure you we have more than one coach on our list. Un­for­tu­nately I can­not give names.”

In what seemed an at­tempt to dis­count Soli­nas, Mbele spoke of Pirates’ stature while giv­ing the pro­file of the coach they need.

“The thing is, Pirates is a big club,” Mbele said. “The per­son who comes here must be ca­pa­ble of han­dling the pres­sure that comes with the job and also fight to pro­duce re­sults go­ing into the sec­ond round.”

The Sea Rob­bers have been strug­gling to pro­duce re­sults this sea­son. In their last 13 league matches, they have man­aged just four wins and six draws, which has them ly­ing 10th on the league ta­ble with 18 points.

Mbele added that who­ever gets the Pirates’ coach­ing job will have to hit the ground run­ning as the club would like to cel­e­brate their 80th an­niver­sary with some sil­ver­ware in their cabi­net.

“The sea­son is not over yet,” Mbele said. “We still have a long way to go. This is an am­bi­tious team. We go for what­ever is on of­fer year in and year out. We never limit our­selves to just one tro­phy.

“Sure, we’ve al­ready missed out on win­ning ei­ther or both of the MTN8 and the Telkom Knock­out ti­tles, but we can still push for some­thing this sea­son. We still have a fight­ing chance.”

Mean­while, Ser­ame Let­soaka will re­place Soli­nas at Stars. Let­soaka, who made his name as a player with Stars, ex­pressed delight at re­turn­ing ‘home’: “I’m com­pletely over­joyed,” he said.

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