Giovanni Solinas. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Giovanni Solinas. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Giovanni Solinas was clearly relieved at his first win at Kaizer Chiefs against Free State Stars‚ but the Italian also knows his situation remains tough after a shortened preseason and little time between matches to implement his style.

Chiefs bounced back with a markedly improved 3-0 MTN8 quarterfinal victory over Stars at FNB Stadium on Saturday night‚ though they were left counting the cost of Joseph Molangoane’s broken leg.

Molangoane and Dumisani Zuma had injected much needed mobility on the wings coming in for thirtysomethings Bernard Parker and Siphiwe Tshabalala.

For Solinas‚ a place in a semifinal and a crucial first win came as a relief amid early scepticism over his appointment among the Amakhosi faithful.

But the 50-year-old coach knows he has walked into a tough situation at the Soweto giants hungry for silverware after three barren seasons.

Add to that his late arrival in the preseason‚ when he had just three weeks to stamp his identity on Chiefs‚ and that the games are coming thick and fast at the start of the season‚ leaving little time to continue that work in training sessions‚ and Solinas has his work cut out.

"We need our tactical reading to improve‚ because we need to protect the movements into the big space‚" Solinas said‚ identifying aspects he still sees lacking after a solid win against Stars.

"When we don’t press, the second option is to drop. The guys recognise this tactical situation‚ and it needs to improve.

"It’s a pity we don’t have time for training sessions. Because in my opinion that’s what the team needs now.

"Because the training sessions are the instruments for improving the players.

"But‚ you know‚ in two days we play‚ one day we travel. There is no time for recovery and no time for training.

"So‚ I am sure that when we have the time‚ and we have a normal week‚ and we play two games a week apart‚ we will improve. Because the guys in the training sessions put in the effort‚ the commitment and the concentration. So this makes me happy‚ and makes me confident for the future."

It is not an easy situation for Solinas. Clearly he needs time.

Saturday’s performance‚ though‚ indicated the coach has some potential.

Increasingly‚ from Chiefs’ promising 1-1 opening league away draw against Mamelodi Sundowns‚ through the defeat against Wits‚ to beating Stars‚ a game plan is emerging that holds some promise.

The defence looks increasingly organised. Siphelele Ntshangase’s reintroduction from the cold as an influential deep-lying playmaker‚ and Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro’s reunited Sundowns partnership up front have all started to look quite good.

Two of Chiefs’ goals against Stars‚ Dumisani Zuma’s 19th-minute opener‚ and Billiat’s third deep into injury time‚ came from superb passing movements from deep.

In the coming week Chiefs return to league action against Baroka FC at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday‚ then face Maritzburg United at Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday.

They then have a week’s break before the following weekend’s MTN8 semifinals come up.

Itumeleng Khune will travel to Limpopo with his Chiefs team-mates to face Baroka FC at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday after returning from family leave.

Khune sat out Saturday night’s MTN8 quarterfinal encounter against Free State Stars and according to the club’s corporate communications manager, Vina Maphosa‚ the goalkeeper was on leave.

Maphosa said that Khune would be available for selection as Chiefs go in search of their first league win of the new Premiership season.

"Yes Itu [Khune] will be available for the Baroka game‚" Maphosa said on Monday.

"All the players are available except for Joseph Malangoane." TimesLIVE