JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp is tired of his goalkeepers’ careless mistakes that have cost the team valuable points that they could have easily bagged, especially in matches of high temperament.
First it was Virgil Vries, now it’s his successor Daniel Akpeyi. It’s been a second half of the season to forget for Kaizer Chiefs’ goalkeeping department, considering that eight invaluable points - that would have had them up with the championship contenders - have been squandered by their last line of defence.
Vries, cost them six points against Mamelodi Sundowns and Cape Town due to his late howlers. On Saturday, Akpeyi, who was brought in to rescue the crumpling department in the absence of Itumeleng Khune, seems to be cut from the same cloth as his predecessor as his blunder against Polokwane City cost the Glamour Boys two points. City grabbed a point from Chiefs as Akpeyi allowed a dipping shot from Walter Musona to bounce under his body.
“If I had an explanation of why we’ve conceded these types of goals, against Cape Town City, Sundowns and today (against Polokwane City), I would give you an answer but this is not to explain. This is just irritating, and not comfortable for all of us. With all due respect to Polokwane City, I didn’t see any other way for them (to score),” Middendorp said.
Sure, the German tactician’s primary target was to do damage control, and ensure that the team finishes in a respectable position, at least. But, there was no doubt that there was still a chance to challenge for the championship title - considering that matches had only reached the halfway mark when he was appointed.
However, those chances have turned to dust as Amakhosi are sixth in the Absa Premiership log standings, with 29 points points, and trail leaders Bidvest Wits by nine - with only nine matches to go. There have been positives in terms of structure and shape of team, and a number of their playing personnel have also come out of their comfort zone, to try and bring out the best from their tanks. But so far, it’s not good enough.
Middendorp though, acknowledges that their chances to compete for the league haven’t only been cut slim by their goalkeepers but their lack of finishing - they’ve only scored two goals in their last three matches.
“We are producing a team that has to be successful and win the games,” Middendorp said. “A lot of players at the moment are doing well, and they are coming into the structure.
“We’ve dominated most matches, although some even took us to 120 minutes, and we’ve had had two strikers on the field but you can see that we haven’t found the key (to unlock defences). Probably, we lack the points that we should have collected from the past in order to be in a better position.”
As he pushes up for a decent finish, Middendorp will be banking on a decline in injuries. Happy Mashiane, who recently suffered a fracture, and will be out for a month, is the latest player joining a long list of integral figures such Khune, Eric Mathoho, Lebogang Manyama and Joseph Malongoane who are already out with long-term injuries.@Mihlalibaleka