It’s been a roller-coaster of a campaign for Chiefs following a nerve-wrecking start under Giovanni Solinas, who only lasted for five months. Enter Ernst Middendorp, it appeared as though there was a breath of fresh air in Naturena – with players who were in the fringes coming to the fore, while there was confidence in the team.
The Glamour Boys showed that resurgence as they successfully reached the final of the Nedbank Cup, where they’ll face TS Galaxy at Moses Mabhida Stadium on May 18. However, while they were cruising in the Cup, their league season was suffering – bagging only four points from 18 in their last six matches. Chiefs are seventh on the log, while merely a point clear of eighth placed Highlands Park and three ahead of 10th placed Golden Arrows.
“It’s been a crazy season that has had highs and lows,” Parker acknowledged. “There are a lot of things that we learnt and positives that we gained from certain matches. But I think we could have done better and pressed those buttons of positivity. We have to go all out going forward.”
Chiefs will need all three points in their last match against Chippa United at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, if they are to a consolidate their top-eight finish. Do that, they’ll amass 42 points and equal their worst record under the tutelage of Middendorp back in 2006/2007 as they finished ninth, when the German subsequently got his marching orders. Anything less than a win will not only put a top-eight finish in jeopardy but Middendorp would have broken his own record of the team’s worst run in the PSL era. Parker, however, is not throwing in the towel just yet.
“It will be very important for us to finish strong,” Parker stated. “It’s a do-or-die in the cup final, we need to put a smile on our supporters’ faces. We need to stick together and stay positive, most importantly. We need to dig deep and find the confidence within ourselves. It’s more mental than ever because the more positive we are in the game, the more chances we create to win.”
Finishing the league on a high note will serve as a huge morale booster for Chiefs leading into the final of South Africa’s premier club knockout competition in Durban. Amakhosi have endured a three-year barren run – a dismal state of affairs for the club supposedly known as the “Cup Kings of South African Football”. Moreover, a win in the Cup final will ease the pressure off Middendorp, who might be shown the door after less than six months back with the club if he they fail to finish in the top-eight in the league.