Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp promises a new-look AmaKhosi

Highlands Park Coach Owen da Gama and Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp during the Absa Premiership Launch at Absa Contact Centre on July 29, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Highlands Park Coach Owen da Gama and Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp during the Absa Premiership Launch at Absa Contact Centre on July 29, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has promised a new-look Amakhosi when they meet Highlands Park in their Absa Premiership season-opener at Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa on Sunday.

Chiefs enter 2019-20 more desperate for a trophy than ever after four unprecedented seasons without silverware culminated in last season’s ninth-placed league finish – just the Soweto giants’ second finish outside the top eight in their proud history.

Middendorp has senior and up-and-coming players back from injury‚ plus new signings.

He can also throw Itumeleng Khune into the mix soon‚ with the Bafana Bafana No 1 goalkeeper due back in action in mid to late August.

Apart from personnel changes expected on Sunday against Owen Da Gama’s nuggety Highlands on their compact home ground‚ Middendorp has also promised a more aggressive Chiefs‚ pressing higher and not allowing opponents to run at them.

“Regarding Sunday‚ I can tell you it will be a totally different setup‚” the coach said.

“Our biggest challenge was very clear‚ immediately after finishing last season on May 18‚ from the next morning on May 19‚ to look into it and see what had to be done.

“One really clear aspect is that it is not only ‘Itu’ Khune‚ who will come back in August; it’s not only Erick Mathoho‚ Lebogang Manyama and ‘Rama’ [Ramahlwe Mphahlele].

"It’s not only Reeve Frosler‚ who was parked in a parking ground somewhere for 10 months to make him sharp.

“I’m not talking even about Happy Mashiane. He was refreshing‚ doing well in his first two games [last season] but then was kicked all over the park [and became injured].

“Nkosingiphile Ngcobo – an outstanding talent; probably the biggest creative talent in South Africa at an age of 19.

“This is very important‚ to bring these players back to their maximum. And I don’t think we have to talk about the quality of Khune‚ Mathoho‚ Manyama‚ Frosler – I can go on.

“That was one element. And I think so far they look good. They have so far made this step forward into what we want to see.

“And then‚ of course‚ you always look to get the new players integrated. And that’s the second component.

“And the third component is seeing a player like Leonard Castro coming awake. Hopefully we will see it in the next few days.”

Middendorp has spoken of a far more “front foot” and aggressive Chiefs in 2019-20.

“We have a certain style. And we are on the way to be more competitive‚” he said.

“It’s not only aggressive. But it’s a man’s sport. Let’s got be involved in men’s sport.”

Most of Chiefs’ signings are an unknown quantity. Zambian striker Lazarous Kambole is the best-known‚ having earned a strong reputation in the Caf Champions League with Zesco United.

SA-born Australian midfielder Kearyn Baccus‚ Serbian striker Samir Nurkovic and Ghanaian midfielder James Kotei have much to prove in the PSL.

Amakhosi on Wednesday added 23-year-old left-back Yagan Sasman from First Division Ajax Cape Town.

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