Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Nkosingiphile Ngcobo is planning to enjoy his side’s showdown with former head coach Ernst Middendorp, when Amakhosi take on Maritzburg United in the DStv Premiership on Saturday
“It will be fun to play against Ernst Middendorp our former coach. We will be ready for him and his team.” Ngcobo told the Chiefs website this week.
Middendorp was fighting for the title with Amakhosi last season, but never really endeared himself to the club’s supporters with Chiefs’ style of play in his second spell with the club, and lost out on the championship to Sundowns on the final day of the campaign.
That was apparently the final straw for Amakhosi chairman Kaizer Motaung who sacked Middendorp and appointed Gavin Hunt. Chiefs, however, have failed to get going domestically under their new mentor and today’s game is actually a bit of a surprise relegation battle.
Eric Tinkler failed to build on a top eight finish with Maritzburg last season and was sacked after a dreadful start to the new campaign, with Middendorp taking over for a third spell with the Team of Choice.
The German did guide United to just their first league win last Saturday, as they beat Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1, with Thabiso Kutumela getting both goals.
Hunt has also won just one league game in eight with Chiefs, who are currently only two points ahead of Middendorp’s 15th-placed team. No doubt the Team of Choice coach would love to get one over the side that dismissed him, and leap above them in the table.
Amakhosi are, however, boosted by their 1-0 win over Primeiro De Agosto this week, that took them into the group stages of the Caf Champions League for the first time ever.
Chiefs did also beat Maritzburg in the MTN8 quarterfinals at the start of the season, with Yagan Sasman the surprise match-winner with both goals in a 2-1 victory.
Amakhosi, however, not helped by a transfer ban imposed while rivals Sundowns and Pirates have strengthen immeasurably, have only won once domestically since, and badly need to start a run of form on home soil.
“We managed to beat them in the MTN8 quarterfinals which tells us that it is possible for us to win if we work as a team and fight for each other,” he points out. “They did win their last game against Bloemfontein Celtic so I think they will come up with the same mindset in searching for another win. We need to be prepared to face a difficult opponent,” added Ngcobo.