Middendorp is definitely not going to allow for any counting of chickens before they hatch
ERNST Middendorp is beginning to like what he is cooking up at Kaizer Chiefs. But the German coach is way too experienced and knows not to get carried away.
With his side top of the Absa Premiership table and now into the Telkom Knockout semi-finals following Saturday’s 4-2 win on penalties over arch-rivals Orlando Pirates, Middendorp could be proclaiming happy days are back again for Amakhosi.
He is not and instead the man who is in his second stint at the club is focusing only on the next match.
“We seem to be heading in the right direction but at the moment I’m not dreaming, I’m thinking about the next game which is against Chippa in Port Elizabeth (on Wednesday).”
Perhaps rightly so given that while the Glamour Boys have not won a trophy in four years, they have flattered to deceive with some good runs only to falter when their fans anticipated success.
Last year they reached the Nedbank Cup final only to be defeated by a TS Galaxy outfit campaigning in the lower division. While the past four years have been painful for the country’s most supported team, Middendorp says he should not be linked to those barren years.
“I have nothing to do with the past four years. I only came here December 2018. I’ve been here for the past 11 months. We definitely had some changes to make. We had a very clear target at the start of the season. We wanted to do much better (than last season).”
Middendorp is of the view that the impressive start they have had to the season and is great for the team’ morale.
“When you win, you build confidence. Game after game your confidence grows. You can see even if you go to penalty shoot-out, players don’t run away. They are raising their hands and saying ‘I’ll take the first one and I’ll take the last one’.
“This is a very clear indication that the confidence is building up. We are heading in the right direction,” he explained.
And he is spot on. Chiefs have been playing with such confidence that they remain nonchalant about things happening around them.
On Saturday they had a legitimate goal by Samir Nurkovic, which would have given them the lead, turned down. They then watched in disbelief as Pirates’ Thembinkosi Lorch was not sent off for stepping on Khama Billiat. Lorch was later influential in Pirates taking the lead.
But Amakhosi remained true to their game plan and saw the match end 2-2 before they prevailed in the shoot-out.
Now with their side in the semi-finals, you can bet Chiefs fans are champing at the bit anticipating the end of their trophy drought.
At Naturena though, Middendorp is definitely not going to allow for any counting of chickens before they hatch.
Everything will be done with German precision, with the focus solely on the next match.