Middendorp to Amakhosi faithful: ‘Have faith in Chiefs players’
JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has urged the Amakhosi faithful to embrace the fact that the club is in a viable position to win the Premiership title after a four-year period of pain and suffering.
After grabbing the bull by the horns in the first half of the season - their biggest blemishes having been one loss and two draws - Chiefs have been enduring a nervy period in their bid to consolidate their No 1 spot on the log standings in the final stretch of the campaign.
Amakhosi recently lost their last two matches - during regulation time in the league and during the lottery of a penalty shoot-out in the Nedbank Cup last 16 - which has increased the volume on the outside noise that they were merely holding the umbrella at the top for the eventual champions.
This follows after teams such as Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns, who are third and second on the log respectively, have made a strong case that they can finish better than how they started following an impressive run of form.
Chiefs have to extinguish those thoughts by bouncing back to winning ways when they clash with rivals Pirates in the last edition of the Soweto Derby this season in a sold-out contest at FNB Stadium, tomorrow afternoon (3.30pm kick-off).
Amakhosi, though, head into the clash as underdogs due to their recent underwhelming record, but Middendorp was quick to remind the Chiefs fraternity not to forget “where they come from’’.
“There’s nothing to bounce back on if we’ve consistently been on the position. I think the bigger problem is that everyone around - the club, management, stakeholders or whomever - are not used to the position that we find ourselves in after five years,” Middendorp explained.
“This is something that you need to discuss in trusting the players and team because we’ve seen during the period of eight months, including the pre-season, how they’ve done.
“This is something that needs to be recognised and is crucial. We won where I was not happy with the performance and lost games that I think we had a very good performance.”
Besides this derby being a top-of-the-table clash, this will be the 50th season in which these two Soweto giants have traded punches in official and unofficial matches.
It is also a battle of the Germans as Middendorp will come up against his countryman Josef Zinnbauer, who’s been Pirates’ beacon of hope since taking over the reins in December.
Middendorp, who’s yet to lose a derby despite being in his second stint at Chiefs, says that the occasion is not primarily about the German coaches proving their worth in the PSL, but rather about two great South African football institutions hoping to restore smiles on their club supporters’ faces.
“It’s just by accident that we are two Germans, coaching two great clubs in South African football. I cannot talk about the idea of Orlando Pirates signing a German.
I don’t think even think it’s discussable,” Middendorp said.@Mihlalibaleka