Speedy return for Chiefs

Ernst Middendorp
Ernst Middendorp
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Kaizer Chiefs will hire an expensive charter to get them to Madagascar and, more importantly, back in time for Christmas.

Chiefs take a 3-0 lead against Elgeco Plus of Madagascar to Antananarivo for the return leg of their African Confederation Cup second-round tie on Saturday.

Flight links with the island nation are not available daily and Chiefs do not want their team to be stuck in Tana with the holidays approaching.

Accordingly‚ the team will make the three-hour flight on Friday‚ train at the match venue on the eve of Saturday’s game‚ play their match and then head home.

“It is an expensive exercise but we have no alternative because there are not that many flights‚” Chiefs football manager Bobby Motaung said.

The club will then give the players time off from Monday through to Thursday to celebrate Christmas but all are expected back for training on Friday next week.

“We will give them two more days off over New Year.”

Chiefs’ first game of 2019 is arguably their toughest of the campaign yet‚ against champions Mamelodi Sundowns at Soccer City on January 5.

Chiefs are heavily fancied to progress to the third round of the Confederation Cup with the three-goal advantage they amassed over Elgeco Plus at the Moses Mabhida Stadium last Saturday night.

Aggregate victory will see them go into the draw for the third round of the cup where the 16 winners of second round matches in the Confederation Cup are paired against 16 teams that have lost in the Champions League.

There is therefore a chance that Chiefs could play archrivals Orlando Pirates in yet another derby if the Buccaneers are eliminated in Namibia on Saturday and drop down to the Confederation Cup from the Champions League.

Or Sundowns‚ for that matter‚ if they are unable to get past Libyan opponents Al Ahly Benghazi.

Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has urged his players to guard against complacency and finish the job when they take on Elgeco Plus on Saturday.

The strict German mentor‚ who joined Chiefs almost two weeks ago‚ said: “It is one game at a time.”

Middendorp described Amakhosi as work in progress.

“I really don’t know what will happen in the next match‚ save to say we are going back to the training ground to recoup and prepare for the trip to Madagascar.

“We are looking forward to the trip to Madagascar where we anticipate a tough game.

“But we will give it a go‚ we will do our utmost to proceed to the playoffs.”

Before Leonardo Castro scored his two late goals in Durban‚ which may prove to be crucial in this two-legged tie‚ a small section of the Chiefs fans displayed their frustration by heckling him.

Middendorp pleaded with the fans to get behind all the players and not unsettle them.

“Castro is a goal scorer and not an entertainer.

“Thankfully, he delivered the two goals to give us a good aggregate score going away to play in Madagascar.

“The supporters need to understand the roles of each player‚” he said.