Middendorp more concerned with Chiefs failing to kill off Wits than conceding

Ernst Middendorp (Coach) of Kaizer Chiefs talking to his players during the Absa Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Bidvest Wits on August 12, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ernst Middendorp (Coach) of Kaizer Chiefs talking to his players during the Absa Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Bidvest Wits on August 12, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/Gallo Images/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp was more concerned that his Absa Premiership-leading team could not bury a string of chances on their return‚ than conceding in the dying minutes for a 1-1 draw against Bidvest Wits.

Chiefs looked surprisingly efficient and sharp at “home” at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night‚ given the circumstances of five months inactive as they chase a league title in their 50th anniversary season under bizarre Covid-19 circumstances.

There were the inevitable mistakes at either end of the field though‚ including nervous moments at the back‚ one of which led to Cole Alexander’s 89th-minute equaliser‚ after Samir Nurkovic had headed Chiefs ahead in the 36th.

More concerning for Middendorp was that in a dominant display Amakhosi could not bury a string of clear chances‚ and earn a victory that could have placed six points ahead of second-placed defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns‚ who have a game in hand.

“It’s always painful to concede a goal at the end of the game. But it was more painful for me to see the moments where we hit the crossbar or did not take our advantages in the opponents’ side‚” Middendorp said.

Chiefs’ link-up and combination play was impressive for a team five months inactive. They had shaky moments at the back – a feature of all the teams in the return to play.

For Middendorp‚ though it also would seem completely understandable given lack of match practise‚ the inability to finish chances was what cost his team the game.

“The biggest challenge we have seen today was already in the first half‚ and then in the second half‚ where we had moments [in attack] of five against three in the transition that we haven’t used‚” the coach said.

“We didn’t manage to score the second goal in the first half already‚ second half definitely.

“And the of course in the end we had to change both full-backs. I think it resulted finally in a goal scored by Wits.

“OK‚ it’s definitely something [that will happen] when you have not been on the field for five months‚ and then of course haven’t had any friendly games.

“It’s about decision-making‚ about the awareness to see where the player is positioned in the front movement.”

Chiefs’ fullbacks‚ Yagan Sasman and Kgotoso Moleko‚ were both substituted off after the 80th minute. Amakhosi had to be content with preserving a four-point lead over Sundowns.

The action comes thick and fast for the league leaders‚ who meet 14th-placed Polokwane City next at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

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