Castro's absence giving Chiefs coach Solinas sleepless nights
Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas was initially confident that he had enough ammunition to sustain the club's scoring purple patch in the absence of injured striker Leonardo Castro‚ but after seeing his side struggle against Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium on Tuesday night‚ he was singing a different tune.
Chiefs endured a tense 90 minutes against the Lions of the North in a match that stuttered to a goalless draw‚ with Castro's much-maligned replacement‚ Gustavo Paez‚ failing to make an impact.
Paez and his replacement Bernard Parker made very little impression on Tuesday and Solinas admitted that finding a suitable replacement for Casto would not be as easy as he initially thought.
“Castro continues with his rehabilitation‚” said Solinas after the Highlands match.
“He’s feeling much better but I don’t know exactly when he will be back.
“We hope we will have Castro for the (Soweto) derby (October 27).
"We hope. The rehabilitation is still continuing.
"Everyday he’s much better‚ so we hope he'll recover before the derby.
“But the players who played played well. They tried to replace Castro. I'm happy.”
Castro had already scored one league and two cup goals when he got injured in a league match against Cape Town City last month.
Searching for a fourth win in a row after beating 10-man Cape Town City 4-1 in their last league match at Cape Town Stadium last month‚ Chiefs could only manage a few half chances against Highlands on Tuesday night.
Their two notable chances came late in the match but were not taken by a wasteful Pule Ekstein‚ who could have at least buried one of the opportunities after being splendidly put through by Siphelele Ntshangase.
It was a nightmare of a match for Paez‚ who has one league goal this season‚ as he hardly put himself in the right positions to test Tapuwa Kapini in the Highlands goals.
After the match Solinas conceded that they missed Castro‚ who is able to take chances and also hold up play with his back to the goals and set up good chances for the likes of Khama Billiat and Lebohang Manyama.
Small wonder then that the Italian mentor sang Castro's praises a few days ago and described the Colombian as the best striker in the league.
“Castro is a best striker in the PSL‚ the best striker‚” he said on the eve of Chiefs' encounter against Highlands.
“He’s very important for us Castro. He’s a key player. I trust a lot in this guy.
“It is a big loss for us because now he has to be out for five or six weeks… maybe. But at the same time this is the right moment to use the other strikers we have in the squad.
“Me I trust the other players. In the squad we have also other good strikers. We will use these strikers no problem.”