Usuthu looked to have scored twice in the second half but on both occasions assistant referee Mervyn Van Wyk flagged them offside on both occasions. But TV replays showed that the referees may have got their decisions wrong.
But Middendorp bizarrely and probably for the first time, praised the refereeing team for a good job.
“Referees have done a fantastic job,” said the German mentor in his opening statement at the post-match media conference at King Zwelithini Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
Middendorp was perhaps being sarcastic as he felt his players were not protected enough by the referees in a game that was physical and saw all three of Amakhosi’s substitutions being forced through injury.
“We tried to keep Samir Nurkovic in the game – out, in, out, in – finally we had to make the change. We were aware that it would not be an easy one. But we wanted the three points and that was the clear target that we spoke about leading up to the game,” added Middendorp.
Usuthu’s Jozef Vukusic said he accepts Muvhali’s mistakes and Middendorp gave a sarcastic giggle on the side.
“First congratulations to the opponent for the win. It was a tough physical game. For me it was more or less an aggressive game. They pushed us in the first half and we managed to go into the half time at zero-zero. Second half we got better and got into the game. We knew they would counter us and that would be good for us to make a counter as well.
“We must accept because they scored first goal. And in such a game the first goal is very important. I am a little sad for my team that we scored two goals that were not given. If it is like that I accept the mistakes of the referee, it is part of the game. But I take a lot of positives from the game,” said Vukusic.
Phakaaathi understands that Muvhali and Van Wyk were suspended some time last season after dubious officiating in game between Polokwane City and Cape Town City.