JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has been around long enough to understand that undermining ABC Motsepe side Tornado FC would be his worst mistake.
Chiefs and Tornado clash in the last 32 of the Nedbank Cup today (3pm kickoff) at Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane.
On paper, Chiefs should walk over their opponents, but their historical record of being bounced out of the tournament by minnows obviously has Middendorp worried.
Black Leopards, Baroka FC and the University of Pretoria – who were still campaigning in the lower tiers at the time – are some of the many teams to have knocked the Glamour Boys out of South Africa’s premier knockout competition.
“We’ve been in preparations for this game, and we are happy to have had our first full week to prepare in 2019,” Middendorp said as he referred to their previously congested fixtures.
“Players have had some recovery time, passively and actively. At the moment, our obligation is not to mess around, but to do it with our first XI.
“The players that we’ll bring to the field will be our best; we are not taking it lightly by leaving certain players out.”
Middendorp, who won the trophy when it was still the Absa Cup during his first stint with Chiefs from 2005-2007, is aware the only way they can reclaim the glory days at Naturena is by going all out in each and every encounter.
Amakhosi are currently enduring a four-season trophy drought, and the only they way can redeem their prestige tag of being the “Cup Kings” is by doing well in this tournament, as the league title seems unlikely at the moment.
Tornado might be unknown in the football fraternity, but they were close to promotion to the National First Divsion last season, but lost out in the playoffs.
Their accession to that spot was propelled by former Santos goalkeeper Tshepo Motsoeneng, who recently returned to the club following a brief stint with Chippa United.
“We’ve seen Tornado and we’ve recorded their games,” Middendorp said.
“We take it in terms of organising and being well prepared in details. Of course, we want to come to a moment to be in our own idea of play and set-up that will help us to be successful.”
Enkosi ✌🏻✌🏾 pic.twitter.com/TTMpYpp3S3— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) January 26, 2019
Chiefs have their own problems in the medical room, but the return of Ramahlwe Mphahlele to full training will serve as a huge boost.
On the other hand, key players such as Itumeleng Khune, Eric Mathoho, Lebogang Manyama, Joseph Maloagone and Philani Zulu are still nursing long-term injuries.
This, however, has given chances to fringe players such as Kgotso Moleko to make an impression on Middendorp, who returned to the club last month.
“To us, this game is all about building our confidence,” Moleko said. “I think whoever is going to be playing (for us) is ready.
“This game will be important as we are also going to be facing the (Soweto) derby (against Orlando Pirates) soon.
“We must take this game seriously.”
Next Kaizer Chiefs Match - Nedbank Cup Last 32: Tornado FC vs. Kaizer Chiefs, Sunday 27 January 2019, Sisa Dukashe Stadium, 15h00.— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) January 26, 2019
Tickets on sale at Ticketpro, Edgars, Spar, CNA outlets: https://t.co/luOA3e4Zmk #NedbankCup #HailTheChief pic.twitter.com/jINi2PyWh7