Kaizer Chiefs have gone from being 'a Fiat Panda' to a Formula One car‚ says Middendorp
Ernst Middendorp suggested that Kaizer Chiefs were akin to a Fiat Panda last season but this season's new-look version is starting to purr with the sleek sophistication of a Formula One racing car.
Three victories from their opening four games of the season have Chiefs on 10 points and top of the early season Absa Premiership standings with Wednesday night’s come-from-behind win against Cape Town City at Newlands providing a massive flip to morale and reputation.
What pleased the usually taciturn Middendorp was the flexibility of his line-up as players interchanged to dominate the majority of the match after being caught early‚ before emerging 2-1 winners.
“I have been tactically flexible in the 25 years that I have been coaching‚ and that is something that I have always been asking for from my players - being flexible‚ being able to play different positions.
“We had tried something similar last season but it didn’t work.
“If you want to go into a Formula One race‚ and if unfortunately you have a Fiat Panda you can’t win‚ you can’t compete‚” said Middendorp with an unusual hint of humour and a dig at the squad he inherited from Giovanni Solinas last December.
“So it was very important for us to look at which type of players that were available for us to get and which players we had coming back from injury.
“Players like Lebogang Manyama and Eric Mathoho ... I’ve been repeating it over and over again that they are like new players for us.
“Plus of course those that we signed like Kearyn Baccus‚ Lazarus Kambole and Samir Nurkovic.
“Yagan Sasman is a huge addition for us because he is flexible at either left-back or as a left-side central back.
“This is what we have been working on.”
The coach did not seem to mind conceding as early as the third minute to Kermit Erasmus‚ suggesting he had expected a slow start after their weekend exertions – compared to their hosts‚ who had not played for a week.
“We had some issues coming into the game but they were absolutely understandable because we had a really pacey game against SuperSport United only 70 hours earlier‚” added Middendorp.
“I think they have a similar quality to Cape Town City. But in the first half already we reacted adequately‚ put more pressure on the ball‚ moving forward.
“We made mistakes‚ yes‚ but we changed a few things for the second half and in the end we were very happy to have taken three points in Cape Town.”