Chiefs coach Solinas blames failure to beat Highlands on Makhulong Stadium pitch

Kaizer Chiefs Italian coach Giovanni Solinas looks during a goalless Absa Premiership match away at Highlands Park in the East Rand township of Tembisa at Makhulong Stadium on October 2 2018.
Kaizer Chiefs Italian coach Giovanni Solinas looks during a goalless Absa Premiership match away at Highlands Park in the East Rand township of Tembisa at Makhulong Stadium on October 2 2018.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas slammed a bumpy‚ overly-grassed pitch after his team’s 0-0 Absa Premiership draw against Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium on Tuesday night.

The pitch‚ from far‚ looked well grassed and even.

However‚ closer inspection did show that under the grass it was quite uneven.

Solinas said this‚ along with the small size of the field‚ was a big factor in Chiefs being largely outplayed by Highlands‚ and unable to add to their three wins in succession coming into the game.

“Both teams played well.

"For us it was a difficult game because the dimensions of the field are small‚ and the grass [pitch] is no good‚” the coach said.

“So for us to play combinations was difficult. We created chances to win the game. It’s a pity we did not convert these chances.

“But I am happy because my players tried to win the game until the last minute.

“Congratulations to Highlands Park because they were fighting to get the result. I think the result is fair.

“I repeat‚ it’s not easy to play good football [at Makhulong Stadium] because the dimensions of the field are small and the grass is no good. I don’t know why they don’t cut the grass.

“The [surface] is bumpy. The grass is high and the ball cannot move quickly. The quick combinations were difficult for us.

“Now we need to focus on the next game. We move on.”

Pressed on the issue‚ Solinas insisted his point made about the pitch was not an excuse.

“No‚ guys ‚from me‚ it’s not an excuse‚” Solinas said.

“Because we are in the PSL‚ the Premier League. So we need a good field if you want to watch a good game.

“If you want to watch an amateur game‚ OK. We will play the long ball‚ we will play like amateurs. But if you want to see a good game we need a good field.

“It’s not an excuse‚ because Highlands Park deserved the result. The result was fair. But my team tried to play football.

“My team tried to play on the ground. But if the ground is no good‚ it’s difficult for us.”

Highlands coach Owen Da Gama was irritated by the suggestion that the pitch played a part in the result.

“I think our technical team must take a lot of credit‚" Da Gama said.

"We planned well – against a team who can change an entire XI and go and win.

“I think‚ like Pirates [Highlands drew 1-1]‚ like Sundowns [a 0-0 draw]‚ you can’t call this fluke. You can’t say we were lucky.

“I think we deserved a point – maybe three points.

“ … Yes‚ after the game you hear stories of the pitch and this and this. Come on guys.

“We played against Free State Stars [in a 1-0 defeat at Goble Park in Park’s last game]‚ where a ball that was going into the net stopped in the water. We never complained about that.

“I think both teams played on that field.”

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