Chiefs coach Middendorp says the PSL will have to find creative solutions to finish the season

Ernst Middendorp during the Kaizer Chiefs media open day at Naturena on August 07, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ernst Middendorp during the Kaizer Chiefs media open day at Naturena on August 07, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp says the Premier Soccer League will have to find creative solutions – such as double-headers – to finish their 2019-20 season.

But the German mentor also conceded that he fears injuries to players if they are rushed into frenetic action.

Chiefs were leading the Absa Premiership by four points when matches were suspended on March 16 due to the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa‚ with the current three-week national lockdown leaving the league in further limbo.

It has also left Amakhosi’s dramatic‚ improbable title chase in their 50th anniversary season high and dry.

Middendorp said Chiefs are champing at the bit to complete the season and try to lift the trophy. He said‚ should a solution be found to playing matches within the next few months‚ in what may be a compressed schedule‚ rushing players back could lead to injuries.

“We need to get creative in discussing certain scenarios to finish the season successfully – using neutral venues‚ playing double-headers to get more games in per week than usual‚ playing games without supporters‚ etcetera‚” Middendorp said via SMS.

“Currently I am raising a concern about the players’ safety – how many off-days are ‘taken’ now‚ how many times teams are told to play in any given week. What I mean by highlighting that is that we risk major injuries to players who are probably unprepared.

“This is a unique situation. But we need to be professional to protect the players adequately.

“It goes without saying‚ as coaches and as players‚ we want to play games‚ not only because we love playing but also we want to win trophies!”

Middendorp said it is hard to tell at this early stage what the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic – which has shut down not just football worldwide‚ but also air travel‚ tourism‚ industry and economies – will be on football.

“The outbreak implemented travel restrictions worldwide‚ sent global stock markets into basements‚ forced entities to cancel conferences and tournaments around the world – nearly every industry is touched by the Covid-19 virus.

“There is a time of experiencing a huge uncertainty and currently nobody is really able to comprehend what this crisis mean for coaches‚ players‚ fans‚ sponsors‚ TV stations‚ officials‚ employees. Worldwide we just hear statements about‚ 'Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate‚ so that we will be able to complete the current season’.

“I believe that Fifa needs to come in with the aim of protecting the health and safety of all individuals involved‚ to assess the situation in relation to Covid-19 and to decide globally in which way and under which circumstances the professional leagues can resume.”

Chiefs (48 points from 22 games) have a four-point lead over defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns (44 from 21) at the top of the Premiership.