Kaizer Chiefs new head coach, Giovanni Solinas, has played his first two Absa Premiership games and from these, we have picked up some key aspects of the Italian’s strategy for Amakhosi.
Giovanni Solinas’ Chiefs will be unidentifiable from Steve Komphela’s side. However, these are, it must be stressed, very early days. Things will change, things will develop. Some things will be more tested by the flood of coming matches. But two games into his competitive tenure at Chiefs, certain patterns have already begun to emerge.
Defensive reshuffle may take time
Steve Komphela struggled for three seasons without a trophy using a three-man defense. His main men in the centre being Daniel Cardoso, Siyabonga Ngezana, Teenage Hadebe and Eric Mathoho. Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Philani Zulu flourished as wing-backs. Though Solinas still has the exact same players at his disposal, the Italian is implementing a four-man backline that includes Mathoho and young left-back Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya, who both did not play much last season. The new central pair of Cardoso and Mathoho struggled to contain Mamelodi Sundowns’ and Bidvest Wits’ attacks, while Ntiya-Ntiya did not offer much dynamism on the left.
Siphelele Ntshangase looks a good fit in deep role
Solinas has placed Ntshangase far deeper than he has ever played before. From the number eight role, the former Black Leopards number ten’s job is to recycle possession while moving through the gears, darting beyond markers in pockets of space. Ntshangase has the technique, calm and vision to excel in this role.
Shabba and Parker aging
Veterans Siphiwe Tshabalala and Bernard Parker started against Sundowns & Wits and the duo have worryingly looked off the pace. Both players have looked slow, did little to track back to help Willard Katsande and Ntshangase in midfield and also pushing up to support Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro in attack. These functions require highly fit and mobile players. It is likely that Solinas will employ the likes of Kabelo Mahlasela, George Maluleka and Andriamirado Andrianarimanana to replace the slowing veterans.
Solinas did in fact caution that things will take time and from what we’ve seen so far, it appears Chiefs fans need to be patient before they see the Italian’s real impact.
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