Even when Chiefs looked as though they’d found their footing under Middendorp, that foundation would crumble as players became obsessed with winning the Nedbank Cup
THE Ernst Middendorp-Shaun Bartlett combination doesn’t seem to have enough ingredients to bring league success to Kaizer Chiefs.
It’s been nearly 12 years since Kaizer Chiefs finished outside the top eight and failed to qualify for the MTN8 competition the following season. But as things stand, that hoodoo might engulf Naturena this season if they fail to beat Chippa United tomorrow (3pm) at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, on the last day of the term.
And as baffling at it may sound, that dark cloud might be brought back to the club by the initial perpetrators – Middendorp and Bartlett. Back in the 2006/7 season, with Middendorp as coach and Bartlett as his striker, Chiefs finished ninth. They are back at the club as coach and assistant and they’ve precariously steered the Chiefs ship to seventh on the Absa Premiership log – a point clear of eighth placed Highlands Park and three above Golden Arrows.
Beat Chippa and they’ll equal their lowest tally of 42 points in a season, the club’s worst record since 1985 and 1994 when they amassed 39 and 40 respectively.
If they draw or lose, they will not only beat their own poor record but will equal those unpleasant runs of 1994 and 1985. Sure, having arrived midway through the season and taken over a team that had run out of steam even before Christmas, the duo were bound to have knocks along the way.
However, even when Chiefs looked as though they’d found their footing under Middendorp, that foundation would crumble as players became obsessed with winning the Nedbank Cup and ending their three-year trophy drought, while their league campaign continued to suffer.
In SA’s premier club knockout competition they impressively hammered Cape Town City and Chippa United in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively to book themselves a spot in the final against TS Galaxy at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on May 18.
However, their performances in league matches have continued to depreciate, amassing only three points out of a possible 15.
And Chiefs fans will be crossing their fingers that the team win the cup and revives their tag of “Cup kings of SA football”.