Middendorp gets hostile reception

Chippa United coach Ernst Middendorp is greeted by disgruntled fans at the PE airport yesterday as the team arrived back from Johannesburg
Chippa United coach Ernst Middendorp is greeted by disgruntled fans at the PE airport yesterday as the team arrived back from Johannesburg

Angry fans confront Chippa coach on arrival at PE airport

EMBATTLED Chippa United coach Ernst Middendorp was greeted by a throng of angry supporters baying for his blood when the team arrived back from Johannesburg yesterday after their latest defeat against Orlando Pirates on Tuesday.

Chippa have not won since owner Siviwe Mpengesi fired Roger Sikhakhane in December last year and replaced him with Middendorp. In fact, they are on a 10-match winless streak, with the German recording two draws and three defeats in his five-match PSL tenure.

A 2-0 defeat to the Buccaneers in Soweto pushed fans over the edge and prompted some two dozen placard-carrying supporters to confront Middendorp at the Port Elizabeth airport yesterday afternoon.

Bemused Chippa players and other travellers looked on as the group chanted and hurled insults at Middendorp. Some players laughed; others shook their heads.

Disgruntled Chippa supporters waved placards reading “The coach is dead and the team is dead”, “Who is Middendorp? Oh . . . the ex Chippa United FC coach?” and “We want Roger back” while waiting at the arrivals gate.

The atmosphere became tense as their voices got louder. Some took pictures while others took videos of the action.

As Middendorp emerged, supporters shouted: “You must go! You must go!”

Meanwhile, other supporters sang an amended Chilli Boys anthem, “Asiphelelanga kushota uRoger” (“We are not complete without Roger”).

Pamela Buwa, of New Brighton, representing the Nebfa Chippa United Supporters’ Club, shouted in the coach’s face: “We have supported you from day one and this is how you repay us. You must go. You are taking our team back to NFD [National First Division].”

A furious Middendorp then asked Buwa: “Who is paying you and how much have they paid you?” She responded: “Nobody paid us. We are the supporters are not happy with the results. You must go.”

Two police officers then came to Middendorp’s rescue, pushing fans away while attempting to clear a path for him.

The supporters followed him to his car, shouting: “You are a disgrace to the Eastern Cape. You must go Middendorp”.

Buwa told The Herald that they, as Chippa United supporters, were not happy with the club’s current results.

“Today we want the coach to see how we feel because we are not happy with what we are seeing. We have been losing games since he joined the team; we have only two points from five games. Now we are saying we have had enough.

“They must bring back the former coach, Roger [Sikhakhane], or if it comes to the push we can even coach the team ourselves as supporters.”

Another fan, Sindile Lamani of Sherwood, representing the PE Football Association, said: “We are here to show Chippa Mpengesi we are serious about this matter because we have sent multiple letters regarding this issue but with no response.

“We have left our clubs and supported Chippa. So we don’t want to be supporters of a bunch of losers. We want to support a winning team. “We have dreams about Chippa United changing PE soccer and also to see football hopefuls in our communities shining through Chippa. If Middendorp remains as coach those dreams will never come true.”

Chippa are 11th on the log with 24 points from 22 games, and are sliding down a slippery slope towards relegation.

Captain James Okwuosa said he understood the supporters’ anger because the team had not been performing well of late.

“It is up to the management to take the discussion on how they will handle this. Every coach has his own tactics. I think we are lacking spirit and need to bring it back.”

Chief operating officer Lukhanyo Mzinzi said the club did not condone the actions of the supporters.

“We have to acknowledge there is a frustration because of the results, but they should be patient as the club is still new in the PSL.

-Vuyokazi Nkanjeni

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