Ernst Middendorp has been in the game long enough to understand that frustration can be detrimental, which is why he kept his cool while his Kaizer Chiefs side looked headed for a shock defeat and finally ended up getting what he had gone to Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium for – a win.
Amakhosi were matched pound-for-pound by ABC Motsepe League minnows The Magic FC who looked to register their biggest win against the country’s most-supported club, but ending up losers as Chiefs made it into the Nedbank Cup quarterfinals.
“The obligation was to qualify for the final eight, and with the result we did that,” said Middendorp calmly after the match.
Throughout the proceedings as the looks on the Chiefs supporters around the World Cup venue turned to concern, Middendorp remained seated and almost expressionless.
In his earlier days, the German was known for his furious reactions whenever players missed chances as easy as Chiefs did on Sunday.
“I would however identify the professional management of the game against a deep-lying team. Keeping it goalless for 90 minutes was perhaps a big achievement for Magic FC,” added Middendorp.
“But our biggest opponent today was not Magic FC, it was our own squad, with preparing, with pressurising and with producing opportunities during the 90 minutes. We made it difficult.
“The execution of opportunities could have been better. We again needed 120 minutes, the result is here and that is what we wanted and now we wait for Thursday’s draw).”
Asked if he at some point felt frustrated as the minutes ticked by towards a penalty shoot-out which could have easily gone either way, Middendorp said he had cut all ties with that emotion.
“When you work as a coach, frustration is not your friend. It is a very clear understanding that when you coach a team you never give up. We know certain players can do better with their finishing but we kept our cool,” he said. He praised his team for their resilience and professional handling of the match.
Chiefs will know who their next opponent are on Thursday night when the draw for Ke Yona is made, and with this being perhaps their last real possibility of ending the season with some silverware, Middendorp will not be worried about when or how it comes, but will be more concerned about the result itself.