It is a tall order and the Kaizer Chiefs coach is under no illusions about the task they face at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola, Zambia where they meet Zesco United in a Caf Confederation Cup match today at 3pm.
Amakhosi coach Ernst Middendorp – who has managed to stabilise the side since taking over in early December – said they will not get ahead of themselves but will pace themselves in both their league and continental campaigns.
“The trick is not to rush, not to panic. It will be a hectic game, no doubt about it, based on our information going to Zambia,” said Middendorp.
“We will start with three or so fresh players. (Willard) Katsande is definitely in, Dax (Aro Adrianarimanana) is an option and (Siphelele) Ntshangase is waiting in the wings,” he added.
A win over the two legs will earns Chiefs a place in the group stages of the continental competition which they have previously been accused of never taking seriously but they seem to have changed in the current campaign.
“It is a game of two legs – the first is away and the second is at home. We will go into the first one and try to manage ourselves in a proper way. Hopefully we can pick up a point, and in the second game we will finish it and proceed to the group stages because that is what we want,” said the 60-year-old.
Middendorp said his players have the right attitude and are willing to compete, which gives him hope that they can go far in the Confederation Cup and other competitions they are involved in.
“I think the type of players that we have, have the right attitude and are willing to do everything right. If we are talking about what we are doing in preparation during the week, then I think we can compete,” he said.
Middendorp guided Ghanaian giants Hearts of Oak to the group stages of the same tournament back in 2004 but left the club before they went on to win it and he is confident he can do the same, and probably go on and win it with Chiefs.
“”I have been with Asante Kotoko in the Champions League qualification,” Middendorp said. “I have been with Hearts of Oak from Accra, I took them to the group stages and they won it. I think that with the players at the club, with the right attitude, good behaviour and willingness to do the job makes me confident that we absolutely have the right group of players to go to the group stages with.”