March 2, 2021

Middendorp: My job is to go deep into Kaizer Chiefs squad against Mamelodi Sundowns

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The absence of chief marksman Samir Nurkovic, as well as fitness concerns on other attackers, has dominated news from the Amakhosi camp

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp says he will deploy his best available men, from a limited selection of options to tackle their fierce Premier Soccer League (PSL) title challengers Mamelodi Sundowns in Thursday’s decisive tie at Orlando Stadium.

Log leaders Chiefs go into the match without suspended striker Samir Nurkovic who has struck 13 league goals and contributed five assists so far this season.

With Amakhosi facing the possibility of getting into battle without key attackers Leonardo Castro and Lebogang Manyama who have been fitness concerns, Middendorp could be having a headache in coming up with the best team to take on the defending league champions.

Also, fitness issues emanating from crammed fixtures might have left Middendorp a worried man although he has lauded his charges for “an incredible” job in clinging onto the top of the standings for the better part of the season.

“Mainly we are focused on our team – I think that’s understandable‚” Middendorp said in his pre-match online press conference as per Times Live.

“And I should mention that the players have done an incredible job‚ considering the team is nearly the same starting XI that finished last season‚ being top of the PSL for nearly the entire season – 22 or 23 match days.

“… It’s my job at the moment to really go deeper into this squad we have available. To check out the selection of the starting XI who are available considering the injury status and fitness level.

“Considering what we have seen in this bubble‚ which is that there is quite a diversity in fitness levels between players for some reason. And of course, we have to find the players who are capable of handling such an emotional event this Thursday.

“We have to be focused. We have to show the competitive attitude‚ in particular knowing what is at stake. But finally, to sum up, we are excited. We are looking forward to having this game on Thursday and we cannot wait.”

Chiefs go into this match on the backdrop of dropping two crucial points in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Stellenbosch, a result which allowed Sundowns to close in on them to a three-point gap.