“As I said, we respect each and everybody, whether it’s a PSL team or an NFD team. We respect them with the quality that they have.”
ERNST Middendorp went from grumpy to eventually smiling about it, due to the number of times he was asked about last year’s Nedbank Cup – a topic he didn’t want to discuss.
The German coach and Kaizer Chiefs supporters ended the 2018/19 season frustrated after Amakhosi lost the Nedbank Cup final to GladAfrica Championship team TS Galaxy in Durban.
But that defeat also motivated the club. Middendorp went to work the following day, on a Sunday, to plan the way forward with the aim of ensuring that Amakhosi finish this season on a happier note.
Chiefs are on course to do that as they lead the Absa Premiership title race. But on Saturday they will be taking part in the Nedbank Cup round of 32 against National First Division side Royal Eagles at FNB Stadium.
When asked what that loss to Galaxy did for the team, Middendorp snapped.
“I am not in a position, sitting here to talk about the Barcelona of Africa,” Middendorp said.
“What happened on the 18th of May happened. It’s history. Forget about it. We started a new season.
“As I said, we respect each and everybody, whether it’s a PSL team or an NFD team. We respect them with the quality that they have.
“Against Ajax (Cape Town), Royal Eagles were unlucky. They lost with two minutes to go. Otherwise, they deserved to make a point. We are aware about it. That’s the respect.
“We don’t need to go back to the 18th of May 2000 – whatever or to the ’90s. It happens all the time where you have results not go your way.
“If you want to talk about this, sorry I am not prepared for this.”
Chiefs have made huge progress this season, not just in terms of sitting pretty at the summit of the premiership – nine points ahead of second-placed Orlando Pirates while Chiefs have a game in hand.
Mentally the team is tougher. In situations where they would have cracked last season, in this campaign they respond stronger and are able to come back seemingly from the dead.
Middendorp has instilled a strong work ethic, with players pushing each other for a starting berth, to a point that stars like Itumeleng Khune and Khama Billiat aren’t obvious starters.
When asked what has changed since that defeat in the final, Middendorp smiled first as this was entering the talk of last season’s final through a different door.
“Please guys,” Middendorp said. “We have a totally different team. Why should I really go into this package and going backwards and whatever?
“Life is so fantastic, life is so good. Why do we always look at the negative? That’s a big problem, that at 61, please allow me to say, start with small, positive thinking. Start with putting positive stuff into this.
“Let’s look forward to having a good game, respect each other going there and approach it with a positive mentality.
“The entire society is waiting for this, having things in a productive way. That’s my strategy.
“There were probably other miserable days in the past, in the last season, but anyway that’s not my step to talk about.”