Middendorp hails Chiefs mental strength in march towards title_1

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has hailed his side’s mental strength as they completed their 50th anniversary week with another victory.

Having seen off Highlands Park in midweek, beating them 3-0 at FNB Stadium, the Soweto Giants were back at the famous venue on Sunday, where they were again on the right side of an identical scoreline against Cape Town City.

Mental strength sees Kaizer Chiefs past Cape Town City

This was despite being put under pressure by the Citizens for much of the weekend’s encounter, particularly in the first half, which finished with the hosts holding on to a slim 1-0 lead, courtesy of a Leonardo Castro goal.

Further strikes from red-hot Serbian frontman Samir Nurkovic and defender Erick Mathoho handed Amakhosi some breathing space, and the German tactician has put the performance down to the team’s mental strength.

“A soccer game is 80% mental,” Middendorp said, according to the club’s website.
“We were on top of it. I could feel it. We were more confident and stronger mentally than the position. We were not sublime in our play, but there was no point where I felt we could lose this game.”Ernst Middendorp

Amakhosi remain the team to beat

With more than half the season done, Chiefs are odds-on favourites to lift the league title after opening a nine-point gap at the top of the standings.

This is after a nervy start to the year, where they were only four points in front of second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns.

Middendorp believes the team’s mental capacity bodes well for the rest of the season.

“This is the kind of strength we need to compete and stay on top,” he said, also adding that he sees the struggling City turning their fortunes around soon.

“We have recovered well from a slow start in 2020. Decision making and going forward was not according to plan. We will highlight this in our team talk, Middendorp continued.
“We have to go for goals, but it is important to watch your teammates and respect their runs. Soccer is a complicated and complex game. We appreciate the players finding solutions during the match – that’s how soccer is played.”Ernst Middendorp

Middendorp also revealed that his decision to haul off Castro, who had bagged his third goal in the last two matches, came after listening to the player.

“I was not planning to replace Leonardo Castro, but the player raised a concern with his heavy legs, and we were forced to replace him.”Ernst Middendorp

He also threw some praise the way of man of the match, George Maluleka, who will miss the next match against Black Leopards due to suspension.

 “He covered enough ground and was exceptional. It’s a pity he’ll miss a trip to Black Leopards this coming weekend due to this fourth yellow.”Ernst Middendorp