JOHANNESBURG – It’s almost 11 years since Kaizer Chiefs finished outside the top-eight in the league, but with only two matches before their 2018/2019 Absa Premiership campaign comes to an end, there is a chance of it happening again, and at the hands of the initial perpetrators.
Back in March 2007, Ernst Middendorp got his marching orders from the club after failing to get Chiefs among the top eight teams that would challenge for the R8-million cheque prize of the MTN8 competition the following season, and Shaun Bartlett was his striker. Middendorp and Bartlett are back at Amakhosi as coach and assistant, and that hoodoo seems to have followed them as Chiefs are seventh on the log with 38 points, six adrift of sixth-placed SuperSport United and one ahead of Bloemfontein Celtic in eighth (they are three ahead of Highland Park in ninth).
Amakhosi have six more points to challenge for in their pursuit to consolidate a top-eight finish, but that appears to be far-fetched after collecting only three points from the last 15. However, the German tactician believes they’ll find their form and avoid missing out on the competition.
“We have to concentrate (in the next two matches),” Middendorp said. “We need the points so that we can consolidate our position and be in the top-eight at the end of the season. And we want to prepare ourselves for the cup.”
Judging from their last seven matches, it appears Middendorp’s troops are more concerned about ending their three-year trophy drought with a cup win, while their league campaign suffers. Chiefs are in the final of the Nedbank Cup and will meet TS Galaxy at Moses Mabhida Stadium on May 18, thanks to convincing wins over Cape Town City and Chippa United in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
Despite almost using the same players in the five league matches, they’ve lacked zest. They lost to relegation threatened Baroka FC and financially challenged Bloemfontein Celtic, while enduring draws with SuperSport United, Black Leopards and Golden Arrows. But due to unforeseen circumstances, such as players not being match-unfit, Middendorp is forced to stick to his inconsistent guns in the upcoming “three finals”.
“What changes guys? Reeve (Frosler) is camping at 75 minutes, we’ve seen it on Tuesday. I couldn’t bring him on today, he comes from a 10-month absence,” Middendorp said after their 1-0 defeat to Celtic on Saturday night. “If I used Dax (Adrianarimanana) for the full 90 minutes, there’d be an issue. He didn’t play and started playing in the quarter-final against Cape Town City.
We are moving into it, to find the players that are in the right direction and performance level. A lot of players (that are coming from injuries) are not at their best at the moment.”
“Against certain teams, we don’t have full concentration, I agree it’s not okay. It’s not good and we have to work on it and correct it,” he concluded.