Kaizer Chiefs head coach Ernst Middendorp is expecting another good turnout to spur on Amakhosi in their league clash against Cape Town City at FNB Stadium on Sunday.
Amakhosi have been presented with another chance to extend their lead at the top of the Absa Premiership with their closest rivals Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits both switching their attention to their respective CAF inter-club campaigns this weekend.
A 50 000-plus crowd of mostly Amakhosi supporters rallied behind Chiefs in their 3-0 thumping of Highlands Park on Wednesday night and Middendorp is hoping for the same on Sunday.
Chief, who hold a six-point lead over defending champions Sundowns, return to their home venue aiming for another victory to widen the gap at the top in their clash against the struggling City.
Middendorp said after their win against Highlands that his side were inspired by the Amakhosi’s ongoing 50th birthday celebrations and therefore could not afford to spoil the party.
“You go to a celebration in Soweto on Tuesday and you see how the big guns from Computer [Lamola] to Doc Khumalo and [Siphiwe] Tshabalala came to honour the chairperson. You don’t want to spoil the party and lose a game. That’s pressure. It’s something that you could see from the players that we have to deliver,” said the German tactician.
“Under these circumstances, plus another handicap losing to SuperSport United [last weekend], the pressure is even higher [because] other teams are coming close. There is a lot of work to keep the confidence [high].
“Of course we read the other results but seriously, at the moment we have the confidence and we are busy with ourselves. Our reference point is our last game. That’s what we are doing and not looking at where are Orlando Pirates, Sundowns, Wits, SuperSport … all these competition teams [the chasing pack]. It’s not really our duty,” added Middendorp.
He said he had already done the analysis of City, who scored their first goal and a win – a 2-1 against Baroka FC last Sunday – under new head coach Jan Olde Riekerink who has been in charge for just over a month.
“I was in Cape Town on Sunday to watch Cape Town City making the first win [under Riekerink]. [It is] a team with a huge potential [but] at the moment not really with confidence. But we have to be at our best again.”
Chiefs lost to City at home the last time they met in a league clash when a howler by former Amakhosi goalkeeper Virgil Vries gifted the Citizens 1-0 victory at the death.
“We have a different team dynamic in different positions with another quality comparing to last season … you know why we lost [then],” said Middendorp of the rather comical defeat.
“And I can imagine that there is a happy moment around coming here, probably having a good crowd again. Nothing to lose, meanwhile having a better position in the league.
“We are watching what is coming on their side. They brought in a defender, [former Greece international Giannis Potouridis] who is very qualified and organising at the back. That was probably one handicap they had before. They have a number of players in forward movement, players with pace who are able to surprise the opponent.”
City recently welcomed back some of their key players in their win over Baroka and the 2-2 draw against AmaZulu on Wednesday.
Some of the City’s return soldiers include sharpshooter and Chiefs conqueror Kermit Erasmus, who netted against the Amakhosi in their Telkom Knockout quarter-final clash in October in a game Chiefs subsequently won on penalties.
ABSA PREMIERSHIP WEEKEND FIXTURES
- Highlands Park vs Stellenbosch (Makhulong Stadium, 3.30pm)
- Baroka FC vs Polokwane City (Peter Mokaba Stadium, 3.30pm)
- Chippa United vs Maritzburg United (Sisa Dukashe Stadium, 8.15pm)
- Kaizer Chiefs vs Cape Town City (FNB Stadium, 3.30pm)
- Bloemfontein Celtic vs Black Leopards (Dr Molemela Stadium, 3.30pm)
- AmaZulu vs SuperSport United (King Zwelithini Stadium, 3.30pm)