JOHANNESBURG – His appointment as the new Kaizer Chiefs coach might have received mixed reviews from football fans, but Ernst Middendorp has made a bold statement to Amakhosi’s faithful that he’ll bring back the glory days to Naturena.
Middendorp has rejoined Chiefs on a two-and-a-half year deal as he takes over from Giovanni Solinas who had his contract terminated on Friday, following a string of poor results.
“As a team, I expect (us) to be successful,” Middendorp said during his unveiling at Naturena yesterday.
“Of course there is a clear understanding that points must come, I am aware of that. At the moment, the team is feeling the pressure of the past weeks, and we are trying to put in some elements but not to over-pack them.”
The German tactician is in his second stint with Chiefs having coached the team from 2005-2007. In that time, he won two trophies - the SAA Supa 8 and Absa Cup. He was fired by the club at the end of the 2006-07 season as he failed to clinch a top-eight position in the PSL.
Moreover, after their loss to AmaZulu in the last game of that season, Middendorp needed police protection from upset fans. Fast track to 11 years later, he rejoins a team that has not won a trophy in three years. But far from dwelling on past misfortunes, Middendorp is raring to go in his second tenure with the Glamour Boys.
“I think that supporters should be selfish, because they want results,” he said.
“You can have some pep-talks left and right, but in the end I am aware of it. If the results are coming and there are certain performances then we’ll get into the right direction, and that’s what I am working on. I can, definitely, promise on my side to really make it happen and prepare the team to perform to their maximum.”
While Solinas was not hired as the first-choice candidate at the beginning of the season, club manager Bobby Motaung admitted that Middendorp’s appointment had been on the cards for a while. Furthermore, since assistant coach Patrick Mabedi’s contract was also terminated, the former Maritzburg United coach has been allowed to bring in his own deputy.
“Looking at the past relationship with the coach, we are looking at a longer relationship with him (Middendorp),” Motaung said. “He understands the country and its mentality. The plan (to fire Solinas) was there before the last straw; we’ve been assessing the team.
We had to review our normal processes that we do when we appoint coaches because the connection of the coach and players is important, and it’s the combination that works on the field.”
Since Middendorp has South African citizenship, he will be on the bench when Chiefs clash with SuperSport United in the league, at Mbombela Stadium tomorrow night.@Mihlalibaleka