Cracks beginning to show at Naturena

Kaizer Chiefs striker Leonardo Castro.
Kaizer Chiefs striker Leonardo Castro.
Image: BackpagePix / Muzi Ntombela

Hand it to plucky and gutsy Kaizer Chiefs striker Leonardo Castro for not mincing his words, openly criticising his coach Giovanni Solinas's tactical approach to their drawn Premiership encounter against Bloemfontein Celtic a fortnight ago.

Not many, even the globally celebrated Messis, Ronaldos and Salahs of this world, would dare expose their manager's shortcomings, notwithstanding during a live (inter)national TV broadcast.

Castro suggested that bringing on a defensive midfielder instead of a winger should have been the option for Solinas, when they were leading 2-0 before conceding two goals with 15 minutes remaining.

Could it be that the cracks are beginning to manifest themselves, signalling a rift between the coach and his charges on how to go about selecting the starting 11 and making substitutions to turn the Naturena-based outfit into a well-oiled, match-winning machine?

"Really, I feel frustrated up until now," retorted Castro. "Because we are leading the game. So we are supposed to also read the game and close the game. But sometimes this part is the part of the coach, who needs to help us also.

"So, as the players, we know inside [the field] what is happening. We try. At the end of the day I just say that we can't concede goals like that. Because they are stupid goals.

"The previous game, also, we made mistakes. The same situations, the same goals. We need to be more focused on our defensive job. Because they [the opponents] can't draw the game like this."

It is also glaring that since the beginning of the season Solinas's defence combination has not been up to scratch, letting in "stupid" goals as Castro has alluded.

As things stand, it would seem the coach has turned a deaf ear to calls to effect changes to his leaky defence. To crown it all, his tendency to delay making substitutions with time still in his favour, has also not endeared him much to the peace-loving faithfuls.

His insistence on using the ineffective Ramahlwe Mphahlele at right back boggles the mind when Kgotso Moleko has proven to be a worthy substitute.

If a senior player of Castro's calibre blatantly vents his exasperation with his coach's tactical acumen, it proves how deepseated the rift is between the coach and his players, indicating that there could be more to it than meets the eye.

We are not privy to the dressing-room dress rehearsals and pre-match briefings, however Castro's action signals that all is not rosy in the Amakhosi palace. It gives the impression that the players are beginning to doubt their mentor's prowess to take the team to greater heights.

Mind you, Italian Solinas was roped in at the beginning of the season to put a stop to the rot of Chiefs going more than the past three seasons without lifting silverware. Castro in this instance, may not be the only one with the conviction that the coach is out of his depth but others may be too scared to speak their mind.

To make matters worse, Chiefs are still searching for their maiden league victory and, as things stand, it seems it will not be coming too soon, after match-day five.

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