“I have said it before, sometimes in certain moments you must be able to manage a game"
ERNST Middendorp took a long pause before responding to what he thought of how Kaizer Chefs have performed in 2020 following their commanding display in the first half of the season.
Amakhosi started the year on a bad note, losing to SuperSport United in Mbombela. They bounced back to beat Highlands Park and Cape Town City 3-0. They then took a dip, drawing 1-1 with Black Leopards and then scraped a 1-0 win over Golden Arrows. They also huffed and puffed before getting the better of Royal Eagles at FNB Stadium on Saturday to advance to tonight’s last 16 Nedbank Cup draw.
But the positive is that their talisman Khama Billiat is back, while Itumeleng Khune is also fully fit which increases the competition for places and also means that the team has players with big-match temperament. That will come in handy in the final stretch of the PSL title race.
“I think that we are doing well,” Middendorp said. “Of course I think that there is always an opportunity to improve. What must I say? You know the numbers. We have won Q1 and Q2. The position we have had from the start to now. It’s a team with confidence and a team with good management qualities.
“I have said it before, sometimes in certain moments you must be able to manage a game. There is another team that won the league recently with 12 games they won 1-0.
“Let’s be very clear, that’s a quality of a team that you are probably being able to perform. That will come. I hope that teams will come here and play with two or three strikers, forward running fullbacks and so on.
“No! No! It will be similar (defensive approach). And then you have to be clear structured and that’s what we are working on.”
Chiefs’ next assignment is a tricky encounter at home against a confident Maritzburg United who eliminated them in the Telkom Knockout and then held them to a 1-1 draw in Pietermaritzburg earlier this season. Middendorp hinted that Daniel Akpeyi will return in goal for that clash in place of Khune who was hardly tested by Eagles. Chiefs’ goalkeeping department is brimming with quality in the form of these two goalkeepers and Bruce Bvuma who showed promise and was part of the Bafana Bafana team at the Africa Cup of Nations last year.
“We have three national team goalkeepers, and I hope Itu (Khune) will come back into the Bafana Bafana setup because that’s definitely his goal,” Middendorp said.
“I don’t think too much about it (which goalkeeper we use). The game was successful against Royal Eagles, I sleep, tomorrow morning (yesterday) we train and we prepare for the game against Maritzburg United this Saturday. We will talk about it with the goalkeeping department, they have a very clear understanding of what’s possible.
“Let’s wait and see.”