Last year
Free State Stars coach Giovanni Solinas. Photo by Gallo Images  ~ 

WHAT does Kaizer Chiefs and Bidvest Wits have in common, apart from both being Gauteng teams?

They were both eliminated from the 2016 Telkom Knockout by gutsy Free State Stars, who will now face Cape Town City in the semifinal.

Orlando Pirates tackle SuperSport United in the other semi, in what could be seen as a grudge match.

Ea Lla Koto coach, Giovanni Solinas, now wants his players to transfer their fighting spirit to the Premiership, where they face Pirates next on 19 November.

Stars have been outstanding in the TKO this season, where they shocked on-form Bidvest Wits 3-1 in extra time in the Last 16 round and beat Chiefs 6-5 on penalties at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday.

But Solinas wants his players to produce the same never-say-die attitude in the league, where they have yet to win a match in eight outings.

“The players are working hard and are unbelievable,” said Solinas, who could prove to be the saviour general manager Rantsi Mokoena has been looking for.

“I remain optimistic that positive results will come in the league. It is important for us to continue being positive. At the moment we are not in a good position in the table and we need to change that.”

The Italian, who just rejoined Stars after the club parted ways with Denis Lavagne in September, didn’t want to compare the team he had last season and the one he is working with this season.

Ea Lla Koto transferred many players at the start of the season after the owner, Mike Mokoena, was ready to sell the club to the consortium headed by Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi, which aimed to revive Moroka Swallows.

The deal fell through.

Solinas said: “What happened early this season is now water under the bridge. We can’t keep crying about those players. This is the new squad and they are working hard to fight for the team. They are committed.”

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