JOHANNESBURG – “My enemy is time.”
With these words, newly appointed Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas spoke publicly for the first time following a 1-1 draw against Mamelodi Sundowns, the Absa Premiership defending champions, at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Italian tactician is under no illusions about the stress that comes with coaching one of Africa’s biggest clubs, especially given that Amakhosi have not won a trophy in three seasons.
“In football you need time before you can improve,” said Solinas, who insisted that the best coach in the Premier League right now was his Sundowns counterpart Pitso Mosimane. “But even he did not win anything in his first season because he was building a team. You can’t change things from the morning to the evening, the process needs time.”
Mosimane, did clinch the league title in his first full season with the Brazilians after he took charge in the middle of the campaign to save a Sundowns side that looked like relegation candidates under Dutch coach Johan Neeskens in December 2012.
Solinas was appointed as Steve Komphela’s replacement and handed a two-and-a-half year contract just days before Chiefs went into pre-season last month, so he is right in the sense that he’s yet to be sure of his best team.
But he sounded fully aware of the fact that he won’t be afforded too much time.
“I feel comfortable here. I like the pressure because it is normal in football. I need to accept this and I need to manage it with something positive,” Solinas said.
“I know we are a big club, like Juventus in Italy. But even a club like that, can go three years without winning anything. There are big expectations here because of what happened in the last three seasons without a trophy. I know the fans want one. But we need time. I work hard, from morning to night every day. So far I am happy because the reaction of the players during the training session is unbelievable.”
Pressed on exactly how much longer it would take for him to end the Amakhosi drought, Solinas wouldn’t really commit.
“I don’t know, this is a process,” he argued. “It is continuous feedback everyday with technical staff and the players. Some teams learn quickly and some need more time. At the moment I can’t say the right time because this all depends on the reaction of the players. The quicker the players learn and understand my philosophy, the quicker the team will be ready to win.”
On playing to a draw in his first game as Chiefs coach, Solinas lamented the missed chances in a game where Amakhosi took the lead in the eighth minute through rightback Ramahlwe Mphahlele. But it was cancelled out by another defender in Ricardo Nascimento, who scored from the penalty spot.
“It was a real pity,” Solinas said of the missed opportunities by his men. “When you are playing away from home and you create big chances to score and you don’t then it really is a pity. But it was important to create these chances, and it is also important to convert them.”
Chiefs host Bidvest Wits tomorrow at FNB Stadium.