JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Pule Ekstein believes that their 6-0 aggregate win over Elgeco Plus in the Caf Confederation Cup was achieved due to their focus and decision to not take anything for granted.
Amakhosi are now through to the playoffs for the group stage, where their opposition will come from teams that were knocked out of the Caf Champions League.
“We are happy as a team that we won away from home because we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“But we kept our heads up and played very well, that’s why we ended up winning,” said Ekstein, who scored a brace in the 3-0 second-leg win out in Madagascar.
Ryan Moon was the other player to get his name on the score-sheet as Chiefs replicated the first leg score-line from the match played in Durban last weekend.
“The opponents were tough,” Ekstein continued. “We saw them at Moses Mabhida Stadium last week.
“But we told ourselves that we are going to their backyard and play our normal football, so that we can win and go through to the next stage.”
Ekstein started the game on the bench, but made a telling impact when he came on, and he could not hide his delight. “I am happy that I scored and I’d like to thank my coach, teammates and everybody who was there,” Ekstein said.
“To score two goals means a lot to me because I came on in the second half and I told myself that whenever I get a chance, I have to score.
“But also I said if I don’t (score), then I have to create. (However) it’s not about me, but the team, so as long as the team won, I am happy.”
Equally happy is coach Ernst Middendorp, who has been on a roll since taking over from Giovanni Solinas.
The German coach has seen to it that Chiefs are victorious in all his matches in charge so far, and as the club goes into the festive recess, they will do so with renewed confidence, and no doubt believing they can not only challenge for domestic honours, but can be contenders on the continent too.
The draw for the playoffs takes place in Cairo on Friday, and whoever Amakhosi are pitted against will look at the 6-0 thrashing of Elgeco and know they will have to work doubly hard to stop the Glamour Boys.
Chiefs, on the other hand, look intent on banishing the generally held notion that they do not take continental football seriously by going all the way this year.
There was the recent embarrassing episode which saw them send a makeshift side without a senior coach to a second-leg match, which they duly lost to confirm the view they would rather not be involved in Caf competitions.
All that, though, is in the past.
It is a long way to go still, but if their demolition of Elgeco and Ekstein’s words are anything to go by, Amakhosi want to conquer the continent.