JOHANNESBURG - Coach Ernst Middendorp is not fixated with breaking records at Kaizer Chiefs, but instead he’s focused on helping his troops to be as good as their last game.
After starting the new season with aplomb by bagging 31 points out of 36, there’s been a soothing breeze that has engulfed Chiefs, so much so that it has those associated to the club - management, supporters and players - daring to dream that the glory days are back again.
However, Middendorp has been modest in his reviews, playing down any championship talk.
The German tactician has won the last two editions of the Coach of the Month awards.
His team, on the other hand, were recently crowned the winners of the Q1-Innovation, walking away with bragging rights in the first eight matches of the season and pocketed a cheque of R1.5 million.
“We are going into the next game (against Bloemfontein Celtic tomorrow) knowing what is there. I am not involved in any records, feelings or high notes movements,” he said.
Chiefs are currently 10 points ahead from second-placed SuperSport United, who have played a game more and will be hoping to close the gap when they host Highlands Park at Lucas Moripe Stadium today (8.15pm).
Chiefs, meanwhile, will meet Celtic in their penultimate match of the year at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban (kick-off 8.15pm tomorrow).
Get a win there, and Chiefs will take a gigantic step towards finishing the year on a roll and increasing their chances of winning the Q2-Innovation.
Middendorp, though, is only focusing on the game against his former employers Celtic, instead of thinking about what it would mean to bag full points in the last two matches of 2019.
“Let’s go to the game on Saturday evening against Celtic in Durban. That’s what is at stake at the moment. There are three points that’s possible to be grabbed, so that’s what we want to do,” he said.
Chiefs’ resurgence this season was not easy.
For starters, the Amakhosi faithful wanted Middendorp sacked when he finished outside the top eight on the log standings and lost the Nedbank Cup final to second-tier team TS Galaxy last term.
However, the German-born tactician remained at his post, going on to revive Chiefs into a team that has showed hunger and determination in the last couple of months.
“In July when we presented our ideas, we said that our goal was the championship - and there were no doubts about our quality, there were a lot of smiles around the corner,” Middendorp said.
“At the moment, we are turning into a direction about what was said during the Absa Premiership opening round in August, and people have started saying, ‘maybe we should have taken this guy seriously’.
“It’s December, of course there are feelings of being comfortable on one side, but being comfortable should not be our main target. We should prepare for games in the same way.”