JOHANNESBURG – The Fifa break may have given some teams time to regroup but Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has lamented how it has made his team lose their winning momentum.
The two-week interval from domestic football brought a breath of fresh air to Orlando Pirates who won their first match under Rhulani Mokwena, having previously endured a five-game win-less streak.
However, the wheels came off on Chiefs’ bright start as they endured their first loss in five matches against Polokwane City at home on Saturday night.
“We didn’t really come into the game, I was really surprised by that having had some good training sessions,” Middendorp said after their 1-0 defeat to City.
“The break looks like it was longer if you compare it to how we finished against Cape Town City. The coaching position is never confirmed from the team talk during the break, Fifa break or during the MTN8 competition as that will raise concern. We’ve had good flair as the team, but having been out for three weeks we tried to train and put things into perspective but everybody knows that you get momentum through games.”
The Fifa break may be a curse or a breather for teams, but Middendorp admits that they were bound to succumb to the pressure, especially after doing well in their first four matches.But if winning the Coach of the Month award is a, then Middendorp was really bound to go through a rough patch after winning the accolade on Thursday.
“The good stuff is that I face the facts and reality,” Middendorp said. “During the week, I had a comfortable talk and discussion, where I told the team that following the four-game winning streak, let’s not believe that since we’ve played four games we are out of ICU. That was also the tone of the chairman in June.”
Despite the blemish, Chiefs continue to lead the pack with 10 points in five matches.
Add to the fact that, Middendorp will bank on reviving the winning spree going forward as he has a clean bill of health.
In Middendorp’s defensive contingent, the return of Eric Mathoho has been integral as he’s been solid, while scoring the winning goals against Highlands Park and Black Leopards.
He has been so important that management richly rewarded his impressive exploits, extending his contract by three years.
The team’s new signings have also been integral in the impressive start defensively.
But it has, however, been right-back Reeve Frosler, who’s fitted like a glove in the team as he’s played all five matches this season.
Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Kgotso Moleko, who were vital members of the team last season, have been kicking their heels in the stands or benched, while Frosler has been top of Middendorp’s list for a starting berth.
“I’m very happy about the development of Reeve Frosler, especially having come out of nine months where he was sitting on the side,” Middendorp said.
“He is a national team player. He goes to the national team and comes back. It’s normal that we have to be realistic and think that in the start we’ll make the progress. There’ll be certain ups and downs, and that’s normal when you are building a certain dynamic with the team.”
Chiefs will be hoping to return to winning ways when they clash with AmaZulu on Heritage Day, next Tuesday.