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Coach has confidence in Chiefs spirit

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Chiefs’ best run in continental football came in 2001 when they won the African Cup Winners’ Cup

Ernst Middendorp, coach of Kaizer Chiefs during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on 05 January 2019. Picture: ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

KAIZER Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp (pictured) is confident that from what he saw against Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits his players have the right fighting spirit to take them to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.

Amakhosi take on Zesco United at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on Sunday in Ndola in the first leg of the Confederation Cup play-offs. They will host the Zambian champions in the return leg at FNB Stadium on Saturday next week.

The winner will book a place in the group stage of the Confederation Cup, and should Chiefs be victorious, they would reach the group stage of this tournament for the first time.

They would also give South Africa three teams in the group stage of continental competitions in the same year with Orlando Pirates and Sundowns in the Champions League.

Chiefs’ best run in continental football came in 2001 when they won the African Cup Winners’ Cup.

“I have played with Asante Kotoko in the Champions League qualification,” Middendorp said. “I have played with Hearts of Oak from Accra, I took them to the group stage (of the CAF Confederation Cup) and they won it later (without me in 2004).

“I think that the type of players we have, with the right attitude, good behaviour and willingness to do things right makes me confident that absolutely I have the right group of players to go to the group stage with.”

Chiefs have prepared well, having faced the reigning Absa Premiership champions, Sundowns, and the frontrunners for the league this season, Wits. Fringe players got a run in a training match against German side Werder Bremen on Sunday.

Sundowns and Wits tested Chiefs’ resolve. They passed with flying colours against the Clever Boys, beating them 2-0 in their own backyard. They showed tactical maturity against Sundowns, outplaying them before they were let down by a Virgil Vries error to lose 2-1.

“We shouldn’t rush and panic against Zesco,” Middendorp said. “It will be a hectic game too, there’s no doubt about it. We have to keep calm and be cool.

“We have to do the right stuff, recover in a proper way and then start this game with two or three fresh players. (Willard) Katsande will definitely will be in. Dax (Andriamirado Andrianarimanana) can be an option. (Siphelele) Ntshangase is waiting. He had a good game against Werder Bremen on Sunday.

“These are the options that we have. We will try to manage ourselves in a proper way, hopefully we can return with a good result and then manage the second game well to be in the group stage.

“That’s our target.”