For a change, the Soweto derby lived up to expectations. There was plenty of encouraging build-ups, several potshots at goals, creativity, yellow cards, penalty and enough aggression indicating this was a competitive tie but above all, both clubs were not afraid to attack each other, which resulted in three goals burgled during the exchanges although I feel a lot more could have been scored.
A proud team that has built a fearsome reputation as the cup kings of South African football, Kaizer Chiefs have been a pale shadow of themselves for the past three years and the arrival of Italian Giovanni Solinas at Naturena early this year was expected to bring an end to the drought, but such has been the effect of the defeat that the Italian did the unthinkable. He picked up the phone on Sunday morning and beside apologizing to the fans, had a tete-a-tete with Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic.
Solinas: Ciao Micho, suppongo che le congratulazioni siano d’obbligo. (Hello Micho, I suppose congratulations for your victory yesterday are in order.)
Micho: Thank you Giovanni. I’m not one to gloat because in this game you know that we are as good as our last match. You are probably also aware that in this game, a man’s gotta’ do what a man’s gotta’ do. But you gotta’ admit, it was one hell of a great game, particularly because we showed you flames.
Solinas: I feel traumatized. I have still not slept since yesterday. I have been replaying the video recording of that game for the zillionth time and somehow I still feel deep down that we deserved to have have won that match.
Micho: Oh c’mon Giovanni, You know as much as I do that spurred on by the faithful “Ghosts,” we outplayed you for the entire match. Even when Khama Billiat scored, a goal which I thought was fortuitous, we did not panic because we had studied you and we knew what to expect from you.
Solinas: Tell me Micho, how did you manage to counter everything that we threw at you with so much ease?
Micho: Easy old chap. You are so predictable it’s not funny. First we instructed Xola Mlambo to squeeze Willard Katsande and not allow him to dictate. Then the second part of the plan was to shut out both Billiat and Leo Castro and you saw how tight my defence was on them. But the coup de grace was to exert enough pressure down the wings and we knew that if we kept on pumping crosses into the penalty area, your central defensive pairing would not be able to deal with that kind of bombardment and would eventually crack because they are vulnerable and we were proved right.
Solinas: Ok, I hear you man but look, we are all coaches and we are supposed to respect each other, not insult each other. That is unethical and I feel greatly offended and deeply embarrassed man.
Micho: Oh, you mean what Rhulani Mokoena said the other day? Giovanni, you and I have been in this game for far too long to know that the kid was playing mind games. You were not supposed to take him seriously but evidently you did.
Solinas: You should talk to that boy Micho. He is getting too big for his shoes. He embarrassed me man, he cannot wantonly tell the public that I lack technical skills. I have worked in Algeria and coached four of their top clubs, in Saudi Arabia and previously Free State Stars. I wouldn’t have coached these teams if I was not good enough. That jibe literally threw me off, mentally if you know what I mean; I tell you for the whole week, I could not concentrate fully on my job. I am Italian and you know we are very passionate about whatever we do. Does he actually know that I could lose my job? I’m serious man, you gotta’ talk to that kid.
Micho: But Giovanni, I told you that you should have taken Rhulani’s comments with a pinch of salt, no need at all to get heated up.
Solinas: But, shooting his mouth off like that! Doesn’t he know that I played in two derbies? I mean, I played the Free State derby against Bloemfontein Celtic and on both occasions, I won. Heh? Why did he omit this piece of information when he went on rambling like that about how better the team was playing under Steve Komphela?
Micho: I told you that this is the big derby and Rhulani pulled a fast one on you man….
Solinas: He hurt my feelings Micho. I mean; I repeat, I won the first (Free State) derby 1-0 and even won the second one too. A derby is a derby – it’s a special game. On Saturday we lost the Soweto derby. But Pirates did not dominate the derby….heh, you know Micho you did not dominate the match.
Micho: Hey, hold on Giovanni. Which game were you watching? Pirates not only dominated Kaizer Chiefs but we damn well murdered them. We could even afford the luxury of fluffing a penalty and twice missed open goals after cutting your defence to shreds man, be honest now and admit that we cleaned the floor.
Solinas: Alright, I agree that Pirates scored two goals. But I maintain that the performance of my team in the second half was OK. Agreed, we need to improve. In fact, we must improve and also the coach needs to improve. That is why I apologized to “Amakhosi” faithfuls and to management. I had to. But we work very hard at Kaizer Chiefs. Everyday we work hard to try to rectify our mistakes, to try to improve and put Chiefs in the position that it deserves. And I’m sure that with time, in the future, Chiefs will be better.
It was at this time that I woke up from my siesta and wondered if this above conversation ever took place or I simply imagined that it actually took place. But I guess Solinas would get an opportunity to do an “Italian Job” on Rhulani Mokoena when Kaizer Chiefs host Pirates at the same venue on February 9.