Chiefs coach Middendorp refuses to be drawn into responding to Sundowns rival Mosimane's 'mind games'
Ernst Middendorp has refused to be drawn into responding in kind to what he called the “mind games” of opposition coach Pitso Mosimane ahead of Thursday’s huge title-influencing match-up between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns.
In a familiar scenario that has been played out many times this season‚ Sundowns coach Mosimane fired the first salvo in the psychological battle surrounding the Absa Premiership clash at Orlando Stadium.
After his team’s 1-0 win against Lamontville Golden Arrows on Monday reduced Chiefs’ lead over Downs to three points‚ Mosimane said that‚ “the title is on Chiefs to lose‚ not on us”‚ adding‚ “we are just chasing”.
While Downs’ coach said he would rather be in Chiefs’ position‚ the message was also clear‚ and clever.
Chiefs are desperate for the title in their 50th anniversary season‚ especially after four seasons without a trophy.
Sundowns‚ the 2016 Caf Champions League victors‚ have won four league titles in six seasons‚ and Mosimane repeatedly points out his team cannot be expected to take the PSL each campaign.
“It’s a very clear understanding‚ and it’s nice‚ if you want to make mind games or to make sure to talk to other guys about what happened in the past‚” Chiefs coach Middendorp said‚ asked about Mosimane’s comments.
“We have our focus on our team. We don’t have to answer what somebody is putting into the public.
“We know what we want‚ we have our focus‚ and we have a very clear understanding‚ and we know what is at stake – and that’s it going into the game.
“Not playing a mind game before and after and in-between. We have our position and we know what’s needed.
“It’s a huge game. We respect each and everybody that’s part of the club. Core values – respect the other one. Do it in a right way‚ with the right focus.
“And that is how we deal with it here. And not doing any sort of discussion just because somebody said something.”
Adding to the pressure on Amakhosi is the knowledge that trophy machine Sundowns have repeatedly shown they know how to kill off a season‚ and regularly finish campaigns strongly.
They have all the silverware-clinching experience. Chiefs are notably lacking in trophies‚ to an unprecedented extent for the proud Soweto giants.
So Chiefs‚ whether they admit it or not‚ will be aware that if Sundowns draw level on points with a win on Thursday‚ then on balance of experience and calmness in the situation‚ it really should be advantage Downs in the title tennis match.