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A touch of class


Ernst Middendorp’s Amakhosi silence Pitso Mosimane after heated war of words prior to this clash

Loftus Versfeld

Mamelodi Sundowns (0)0

Kaizer Chiefs (1)2

Nurkovic 6, 77

ERNST Middendorp and Kaizer Chiefs won the battle that mattered in this top of the table clash that was dominated by an intense war of words.

Most of those words came from coach Sundowns Pitso Mosimane. The German coach only ever responded once, in a heated interview between the two men at SABC’s Soccer Zone, leading up to the Shell Helix Ultra Cup. Yesterday, in a scorching hot Pretoria, Chiefs and Middendorp responded with a loud statement that silenced Mosimane and his Sundowns who were outsmarted in their own backyard.

Middendorp almost popped a vein, such was the passion that consumed him when Samir Nurkovic completed his brace to confirm that Amakhosi would leave the country’s capital with all three points.

The Serbian forward was also responsible for Chiefs taking an early lead after the match was delayed by 15 minutes due to a number of latecomers who were still outside at 3.30pm for this sold-out affair.

Nurkovic bundled the ball past Kennedy Mweene after an exquisite cross from Reeve Frosler. The goal – with a whiff of offside – set the tone for a dramatic contest of which the build-up was headlined by Mosimane arguing that Amakhosi have been benefitting from poor officiating which is why they are at the summit of the Absa Premiership standings.

He repeated that line every time he was given a platform to talk about this match, putting the officials under the microscope.

Niggling injuries

Yesterday Victor Hlungwani was given the responsibility as the man in the middle. He was uncompromising and firm in a match whose rhythm was constantly disturbed by niggling injuries. Hlungwani was at the heart of the action with a no-nonsense approach.

But the drama, as expected, spilled into the sidelines with security guards and even the police needed to stop a brawl between Mosimane and Middendorp as the two coaches were in each other’s faces at half-time.

While Mosimane won the mind games leading up to the match, Middendorp had an upper hand in the mind games that took place during the game. The German was the calmer of the two, while Mosimane was emotional. Jingles’ team inherited that emotional baggage, vocally protesting whenever they felt that they were getting the short end of the stick.

Chiefs, for their part, played with a lot of freedom. They were composed and energetic with a burst of pace whenever they went forward.

This win will do Chiefs’ confidence a world of good in their quest to bring back the glory days after four seasons without a trophy.

Last week Mosimane had said that Sundowns didn’t need to beat Amakhosi to win the league. But Chiefs needed this win to send a strong statement in a season they have dominated to be the early pacesetters. Doing so in Sundowns’ castle would have made these points more valuable than any of the three-pointers they have collected this season.

Their performance mirrored how Middendorp has handled this season. While there has been a lot of noise from his own fans and those outside about his competency, he has just got on with his work without being distracted by what everyone is saying.

He did that to perfection to win this grudge match to cement their place at the top and get bragging rights against the current dominant force in South African football.

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