Amakhosi know that they have to be at their best to confrim their place as league champs
GETTING over the line in the Premiership title race may at this point seem like a simple task for Kaizer Chiefs but management at the Soweto giants have warned that an extra-ordinary effort is still required to conclude the marathon at high tempo.
The coaching staff at the Naturena team are pulling out all the stops to avoid their campaign being derailed in the key closing stages of the season.
The Glamour Boys were on fire from the word go but their free-flowing game is starting to show signs of shakiness.
The blistering take-off saw Chiefs registering 12 victories in 14 games during the first half of the season. In those there was one draw and one defeat.
But the second half of the season has proven to be a mixed bag so far.
They have competed in five games. In their opening game of the year they succumbed 2-1 at the hands of SuperSport United before beating the likes of Cape Town City, Highlands Park and Lamontville Golden Arrows. Chiefs were then held by Black Leopards in a 1-1 stalemate.
Against Arrows, they needed a late Lebogang Manyama strike to walk away with the points. Opposition teams are not making it easy for Amakhosi.
Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp believes that perseverance will be key for Amakhosi in the title race.
“Some ingredients were missing against Lamontville Golden Arrows. They made it difficult for us,” he said.
“I ask for patience, I ask for calmness, I ask for confidence, and I ask for the team to be cool from the beginning until the end.
“The team is showing some characteristics of a championship winning team. Two years ago, if I’m not mistaken, a certain team won the league by winning 12 games 1-0. Everyone is in a competitive mode now. We need to know that,” Middendorp explained.
Chiefs are 10 points ahead of second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns on the log. They have acquired 45 league points in 19 matches.
“This is part of the competitive season, players need to get used to the fact that teams will try and make it difficult for us,” said Middendorp.
“We need to keep moving together as a team. We have to find ways to unlock teams and find channels and right movements.”
The pressure is enormous on the German coach, who is expected to lead the team to their first league title in five years.
He is adamant that his men still need to improve certain aspects of the game to become an all-conquering outfit that he dreams of.
“Of course there’s room for improvement from our side, there’s no doubt about it,” he admitted.
“We are working very hard to deal (with teams that are sitting back and waiting to catch us on the break) with this approach. But that is normal.
“We experienced it in Venda against Black Leopards and we played against a well structured team defensively (this past weekend).
“I wouldn’t say all of a sudden, that it is new. We played Cape Town City and you never saw them playing with a diamond shape, but all of a sudden they come to FNB Stadium and they play with a diamond.
“Different approaches are coming in our direction. If we want to be champions, we need to find solutions and it is our job.”