Middendorp won't let his players get carried away after beating Sundowns
That drum was the only thing the Brazilians beat on Sunday afternoon with Ernst Middendorp’s Chiefs outsmarting and outplaying Sundowns to keep their place at the top of the Absa Premiership and stretch their lead to five points with a game in hand. Instead of blowing his own horn, in a match whose build-up was dominated by coach Pitso Mosimane talking up the match, Middendorp cut a calm figure and even warned his team against being carried away.
When asked if it felt sweet to beat the reigning South African champions in their own backyard, the German coach was quick to respond.
“No! Not at all,” Middendorp said. “I think that people who have achieved so much, won so many trophies have every right to talk and make his ideas public, how he feels. There’s nothing sweet at all. This is just three points. There is nothing about sweetness.
"Happiness is the biggest enemy of your development and progress. If you start to be happy, you start running around with sweetness in your eyes then you are done. This will definitely not happen.”
The win over Sundowns sent a strong statement of Chiefs’ title ambitions. Despite being outplayed, and more importantly outscored, Sundowns’ coach, Mosimane, was still militant in his speech. He refused to acknowledge the defeat, alleging that Samir Nurkovic’s goal was offside despite being shown replays that it wasn’t. When Middendorp was asked about the goal, he was clearly frustrated. The German coach had held his tongue for quite some time with Mosimane continuously saying that Chiefs are at the top because they have benefited from poor officiating.
“Oh Lord. Really guys. What the hell are we doing? Let it go,” Middendorp said. “Today it is your advantage and tomorrow it is someone else.
"I saw on Wednesday a game where I believe that there was a clear situation where there was a penalty. Should we discuss each and every action? Now you are telling me it was offside. The referee indicated that it was a goal, that’s it. Holy Ghost, let’s stop this. We address this to the wrong people. The referees are administrators and they are teachers. If you want to see better (referees being professional), address it to the PSL and Safa.”
Chiefs switch their focus to another gigantic match which will also be played in a sold-out stadium. Amakhosi will host their arch-rivals Orlando Pirates at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday in the quarter-finals of the Telkom Knockout. The two teams will go into this match with contrasting fortunes.
Chiefs are on a high, sitting pretty at the summit of the standings and having registered a morale-boosting win over Sundowns. Pirates are down in the dumps, struggling to pick themselves up and going into this match at the back of a loss to Premier Division rookies Stellenbosch.