Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovani Solinas was not his usual jovial self as he spoke to the media yesterday morning, ahead of Sunday’s Telkom Knockout quarterfinal match against SuperSport United at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The small jokes that he usually cracks were absent as he spoke of how his team needed to get up after the Soweto derby defeat, dust themselves down and show character against Matsatsantsa a Pitori.
Perhaps he knows that should his team not progress further in the TKO, his stay at Naturena will no longer be comfortable.
“This cup is very important for us. This is a crucial game. It is a difficult game. SuperSport United are very strong. They have been to the cup finals a lot of times,” said Solinas.
“After the derby, this is a tough game.
“But this is our life as footballers. We need to have a reaction. We need to believe in ourselves. This is the moment for that. When nobody else believes in you, you need to believe in yourself.
“So we need to show character and a strong mentality.
“Being in a big club demands that because expectations are high. You need resilience.”
It is perhaps unfair that Solinas has to carry the responsibility of making up for the shameful past three years Amakhosi have gone through, but he knows that only a cup will curry favour, especially with the club’s supporters.
“SuperSport beat us in the MTN8 [semifinals]. They are strong. But now is a new game we need to fight to move on.
“When you play a knockout game you have to be ready for everything – the game may be finished in 90 minutes, it may go into extra time or even to penalties. We need to be mentally ready.
“We need to learn from every game and improve. We have not been getting results. We need to take responsibility.
“I watched a video after the derby where our fans were crying. [They] travelled two to three days for the derby, this affected me.
“We need results. We drew with Highlands Park, lost to Polokwane City and lost to Pirates and we went to penalties with Black Leopards.
“We need consistency. In September we played well and won three games in a row but after that we don’t get the results.
“We had some injury problems after that. That is the problem. We need consistency which you get when you play with the same players for longer.
“We have a lot of supporters in Durban. They can help us.
“The first training session after the Pirates defeat the players were feeling down because they were also disappointed. But yesterday the mood was much better, the intensity and commitment was very good.”