Middendorp chastises Vries‚ but struggles for answer to Kaizer Chiefs’ keeper problem

Ernst Middendorp, coach of Kaizer Chiefs during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Cape Town City at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on 30 January 2019.
Ernst Middendorp, coach of Kaizer Chiefs during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Cape Town City at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on 30 January 2019.
Image: ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has said protection of a player can go so far‚ and chastised low-on-confidence goalkeeper Virgil Vries for yet another costly mistake made in Amakhosi’s 1-0 Absa Premiership defeat against Cape Town City.

Middendorp‚ though‚ appeared not to have a clear answer for how he might solve the growing Vries situation‚ where the keeper appears to lose more confidence with each error as he gets game time between the posts in the absence of injured Itumeleng Khune.

Vries on Wednesday night spilled Gift Links’s free-kick at FNB Stadium‚ allowing Edmilson Dove’s 79th-minute winner for City‚ attracting a backlash from Chiefs’ supporters.

Middendorp expressed his frustration at another error from Vries‚ adding to a notable mistake that gifted Mamelodi Sundowns a 2-1 win earlier in January‚ and a few more too. He also picked out his attack‚ who could not profit from a string of chances created.

“I fully understand‚ I’m not an idiot. I actually fully understand‚ I face the facts. You can’t. You need goalkeeping‚” Middendorp said.

“I’m not sitting here and saying‚ ‘Oh‚ yeah‚ yeah’. Of course I’m not happy with this.

“It’s happened now for the second time – what must we say? We have to work it out in the next 10 days and we have to see who is in the goalposts next Saturday.

“It’s nice to protect players‚ which we are doing. But on the other hand you must be capable. That’s an easy way to handle this‚ and that’s simply as it is.

“Of course we didn’t score in the front. But can you not solve this problem at the back‚ in the final stage?

“I’m definitely facing the facts and I fully understand that at a certain point the supporters are unhappy.

“It’s not to throw somebody under the bus. We lost as a team. We will definitely face it in a clear way.

“I’m looking into it. We have to design a training programme for our scoring. Not only tonight‚ but on Sunday [in the 1-0 Nedbank Cup win against third division Tornado FC] we had scoring opportunities.

“This is one issue. And the second is‚ of course‚ meanwhile‚ then you kick the ball into your own net. In the worst case. That’s what happened. And that’s what we have to face.

“It’s white‚ or you can make it grey – no. It’s a very clear mistake. Not a proper action at this moment‚ and it should not happen. Not at this level.”

Middendorp’s conundrum on Vries and Chiefs’ goalkeeper situation is complicated by their next fixture being the Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium on Saturday‚ February 9.

Does the coach throw 23-year-old Bruce Bvuma into the cauldron‚ risking denting Vries’s confidence by dropping him? Does he persist with Vries‚ also risking the keeper’s confidence should the mistakes persist? Do Chiefs sign a keeper?

“We’ll face it. It will definitely be a very interesting 10 days preparing for the next game‚” the coach said.

“If it’s Vries again‚ it’s Vries. If it’s Bruce‚ it’s Bruce.”

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