New Chiefs boss keeping it simple

Ernst Middendorp sees no value in too much tinkering ahead of Cup game

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp
Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

New Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp is looking for consistency from his side and therefore will not be tinkering too much with his team for Saturday’s Caf Confederation Cup soccer tie against Malagasy opponents Elgeco Plus.

Middendorp said he would try to play again with as many of the players who featured in his maiden game back in charge of Amakhosi on Wednesday when they beat SuperSport United 1-0 in their Absa Premiership clash at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

“Obviously we will have to take stock of the knocks from Wednesday. Philani Zulu‚ for example‚ was cramping at the end of the game but I want to stick as much as I can with the players from Wednesday‚” he told TimesLIVE ahead of Saturday’s second round‚ first leg tie at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

“I ordinarily don’t like this chopping and changing of teams and putting a whole new side in. We are in the middle of the season and we should really go for it with the team that we have now put together.”

Middendorp has 24 registered players for Saturday’s game and will have to make at least one change because fullback Kgotso Moleko was not registered by Chiefs for the first three rounds of the African competition.

But since the injury suffered by regular right-back Ramahlwe Mphalele and his subsequent lengthy layoff‚ it is a decision that could backfire on Chiefs.

“That’s a real pity. I liked him [Moleko] from the first day I saw him‚” Middendorp said.

“I hadn’t really noticed him before and he’s a player with huge potential. We have to find a solution. [Daniel] Cardoso can maybe play there, or one of the other centrebacks.”

Under previous coach Giovanni Solinas‚ Chiefs rested the majority of their regulars for the first round tie against Zimamoto of Zanzibar‚ which AmaKhosi won 5-2 on aggregate.

Middendorp has admitted he is aware he is not always an easy person to deal with.

He was reflecting on a wan reception that the supporters gave him when he first went onto the field at Mbombela Stadium before his debut match on Wednesday.

Middendorp returned to the helm of the club after more than a decade to steer Chiefs to a 1-0 win over SuperSport United in Nelspruit in midweek and admitted afterwards he had a reputation for being prickly.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit controversial and not everybody likes that. Sometimes I have some crazy ideas about the positioning of players.

“I’m aware about all of that but I can only promise one thing and that is the target of maximising the potential of the team and to maximise the performance level of Kaizer Chiefs to be successful in the end.

“That is the main job I have to do and I think you can understand after that there is not much time to be worried about all the other stuff‚” the German said as he now looks ahead to his second game back in charge on Saturday night.

Middendorp was pleased to have been able to start with a win against SuperSport.

“I’m trying to give 100% towards the job at hand‚” Middendorp said.

“Of course it was a good feeling that the supporters were happy with the team and with each and everyone who are part of this team.”


Caf Champions League

Saturday: Orlando Pirates v African Stars (Orlando Stadium‚ 6pm)

Sunday: Al Ahli Benghazi v Mamelodi Sundowns (Petro Sport Stadium‚ Cairo‚ 5pm)

Caf Confederation Cup

Saturday: Kaizer Chiefs v ASSM Elgeco Plus (Moses Mabhida Stadium‚ 8.15pm)