17.02.2016 22:11 h

Relief for Italian coach as Pirates see Stars

The fortunes of Italian coach Giovanni Solinas took an upward turn Wednesday as Free State Stars triumphed 1-0 against Orlando Pirates in the South African Premiership.

Victory lifted Stars, who are based in central town Bethlehem, five places to seventh after 19 rounds and eased the pressure on the first Italian to coach a top-flight football club in the republic.

Before the Pirates match, Solinas had collected only seven points from a possible 21 since his mid-season arrival in place of German Ernst Middendorp.

The 47-year-old Italian joined Stars after working with four Algerian clubs since 2010, then one in Saudi Arabia.

Ayanda Nkosi snatched the winner 10 minutes from time at a packed Goble Stadium, heading a Danny Venter cross past goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo.

"We played very well and deserved the victory," Solinas told reporters. "In the second half we created many scoring opportunities."

Defeat continued a disappointing domestic season for 2015 CAF Confederation Cup runners-up Pirates who dropped two places to 11th after an eighth league loss.

"Our second-half performance was shocking," conceded Buccaneers coach and former South Africa midfielder Eric Tinkler.

"We should have been three goals ahead by half-time, but once again poor finishing costly us dearly."