Chiefs coach Middendorp: ‘This is something where you have 2 goal-scorers not available’
Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp was left to rue the unavailability of talismanic striker Samir Nurkovic who was suspended for the damaging 1-0 Absa Premiership loss to rivals Mamelodi Sundowns on Thursday at Orlando Stadium.
Nurkovic‚ who is Amakhosi’s leading goal-scorer with 13 strikes to his name this season‚ received a fourth yellow card in the 1-1 draw with Stellenbosch FC last weekend.
The other player who limited Middendorp’s attacking options at Orlando Stadium was Leonardo Castro‚ who has since been ruled out for the remainder of the season and has left the bio-bubble to get treatment.
“We could have used him [Nurkovic] today against Sundowns to our advantage‚ I am 100 percent sure‚” said Middendorp whose body language at the final whistle was of a frustrated man.
The loss to Sundowns means that Chiefs have blown a 13-point lead they enjoyed in December and the two teams are equal on points with three matches remaining in the season.
“It’s a disappointment‚ the heads are down and it’s definitely to be expected. We now have three days time before our game against Bidvest Wits on Sunday‚” Middendorp said afterwards.
“We have to freshen ourselves up and try to find the combination. It’s just that a number of players at the moment cannot expect 90 minutes.
“It is our duty that Samir Nurkovic is back and that is definitely something that we are looking forward to. This is something where you have two goal-scorers‚ [who] really put the power in the final third‚ not available.
“We have to find a solution but the good news is that Samir will definitely be available for the weekend and then go again.”
In their remaining matches‚ Chiefs are up against Wits‚ Chippa United and Baroka FC where they will be looking for nine points against highly unpredictable opponents.
“It is three games to go and of course this is a disappointing result against Sundowns‚” Middendorp said.
“But you have seen in the second half we were running for 45 minutes in the half of the opponents but we couldn’t open them up. I am more worried about the first 20 minutes of the game‚ where we had two huge opportunities against the goalkeeper but did not take advantage.
“In the first half we talk about long balls and I think you saw the long balls on top of the defence line by Sundowns consistently. In the second half‚ it is always difficult for the defence line but we sorted it.
“There were two or three times where we had shots from distance at the beginning of the match.”