Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has come in for severe criticism from the Amakhosi fans for taking off young defender Happy Mashiane at halftime of the 1-1 Soweto Derby draw against Orlando Pirates.
The 21-year-old Mashiane was replaced by the more experienced Philani Zulu at the start of the second half, with the scores locked at 0-0.
Chiefs made the breakthrough in the 53rd minute through a Daniel Cardoso penalty, after Khama Billiat was brought down by Asavela Mbekile.
Thembinkosi Lorch grabbed the equaliser for Pirates with about 10 minutes to go at the FNB Stadium.
“It was a highly intensive game. A player can express himself, but not too much. It’s a learning curve for Mashiane, and he will have gained valuable experience today,” Middendorp told the Chiefs website on Monday.
“We again lost points in a game we should have won. The same happened in our recent outings against Mamelodi Sundowns and Cape Town City.We were also the better side in those matches, but we were unable to collect the three points.
“We should have had more drive to score that second goal, especially as there was some confusion in the Pirates camp after our goal, and we should have exposed that.”
The German mentor had words of praise for new goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and Hendrick Ekstein.
“He (Ekstein) is an outstanding player. Hendrick is no longer a youngster, and I see him as somebody who should be able to carry the team going forward,” Middendorp said.
“(Akpeyi) proved that we took the right decision to bring him in.”
But now Chiefs – who face amateur outfit Magic FC in the Nedbank Cup last-16 on Sunday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth – need to play catch-up in the league.
Amakhosi are fifth on 28 points, nine behind log leaders Wits.
“We just try to win very game, home and away. The season is far from finished. We will see some surprising results in the next few months,” Middendorp said.@ashfakmohamed