Solinas has been with Ea Lla Koto for less than a month, but the 47-year-old Italian, who obtained his UEFA A and UEFA Pro Licence with the Italian Football Federation, has just overseen back-to-back wins that have resulted in Stars moving into the top eight bracket.
PSL: Firstly, welcome to South Africa and to the PSL! You have managed improve Stars’ position since your arrival less than a month ago, are you content with your initial impact?
Giovanni Solinas: Yes, at the moment we are very happy, the players have responded well and it’s been a good start for me. But we must keep focussed, because we face a difficult time in February, with a lot of games in a short time. We need to continue to work hard and keep the same spirit and same attitude, we must play with positivity and confidence, that has been important for us.
PSL: How has the recent improved form affect the club’s goals and ambitions, any changes?
Giovanni Solinas: The target remains survival. The first target is that. For us, it’s very important to arrive at 33, 35 points as soon as possible, because that is usually the mark for safety. After that we can reassess.
PSL: Can you tell us a bit more please about your arrival in South Africa, and what are your coaching philosophies based upon?
Giovanni Solinas: In the past I worked for four years in Algeria, and in Saudi Arabia. While in Algeria I twice coached in the African Champions League. I love the African continent, and the chance to work in South Africa was an exciting and new challenge for me.
I knew about the national team Bafana Bafana, and also about some of the South African clubs before I came here. Football is football, the same rules. But yes there are differences between European football and African football, so as a coach you need to be empathetic; you need to find ways of co-operation, to work hard together with your players.
I like a balance of football, I like attacking football, but defending is also important, you have to find the right balance. I admire the philosophy of Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa. The most important thing for me as a coach is to install a professional and good work ethic in the squad, the right psychology, to understand the mentality of the players, to improve their skills, to help further their careers.
PSL: Last weekend you guided your side to a home victory in the Free State derby. Having witnessed the atmosphere and the play on the field, what is your assessment?
Giovanni Solinas: It was very nice, a great 90 minutes. Some of the fans are very funny, I love what I have seen of South African fans so far, and they have welcomed me very warmly. From what I have seen, the PSL is on a very good level. Strong players with good technical ability.
Losing Andrea Fileccia was obviously a big disappointment for us. He was a key player for us. It’s very sad for Andrea, I spoke to him and there was no good news. We dedicated the win against Celtic to him. We also have Moekesti Sekola out with a hamstring problem, so it’s not a good situation.
PSL: Lastly coach, would you tell us please where in Italy you come from, and which team you support or supported in your home country?
Giovanni Solinas:I come from Sardinnia, which is an island in the Mediterranean off the coast of Italy. I don’t support one of the big clubs – they have enough support! I support my local team, Cagliari.