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Chiefs know they have to be up for a tough Downs battle

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That impressive run has given Amakhosi fans a sense of belief that the glory days may be back at Naturena following a four-year trophy drought

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp. Picture: Phando Jikelo ANA

Kaizer Chiefs may currently be on top of the Premiership standings, but bagging full points against reigning champions Mamelodi Sundowns could very well set the tone for the rest of their campaign.

The two teams will renew their rivalry on Sunday at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, an encounter that could also play a huge factor in deciding the team that bags the Q1 INNOVATION.

Chiefs are atop of the standings with 19 points, following six wins, one draw and one defeat, which came (as a surprise) against Polokwane City.

Impressive run

But since the defeat to City, Ernst Middendorp’s troops have dusted themselves off, bagging full points in their last three matches against AmaZulu, Baroka FC and Golden Arrows.

That impressive run has given Amakhosi fans a sense of belief that the glory days may be back at Naturena following a four-year trophy drought.

Sure, some of the supporters are not pleased with the team coached by Middendorp but his approach to select players on merit rather than popularity is what has seen his team dominate so far this season.

Middendorp has also fearlessly thrown his young players in the deep end, with defender Njabulo Blom the latest player to jump from the reserve league to the elite division, following in the footsteps of Bruce Bvuma, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya and Happy Mashiane.

A win for Chiefs on Sunday will also give them ample confidence heading into their clash against Orlando Pirates in the quarter-finals of the Telkom Knockout on the weekend of November 2-3.

A week later the Soweto giants will again lock horns in a Premiership tussle, another clash that could very well decide how either side ends 2019.

Pitso Mosimane, the Sundowns coach, sent a warning to Chiefs the last time the two teams met in the Shell Helix Cup a fortnight ago, stating the 4-2 loss in that encounter allowed him to gauge his players that are on the fringes and what Chiefs, who fielded their regulars, will likely present on Sunday.

And that’s why Middendorp should head to Loftus Verseld with some tricks up his sleeves. This is, after all, a lair that Sundowns have used to their advantage, once defeating Pirates 6-0 the season they finished as runners-up to Bidvest Wits in the Premiership.