Ernst Middendorp is one coach who is hard to please, but if he could not be drawn into commenting on Leonardo Castro’s performance in the Shell Helix Ultra Cup last weekend, where the Colombian striker scored a hat-trick against his former team Mamelodi Sundowns, the German coach simply had to be happy with his attacker’s display.
Castro’s superb individual effort and combination with Khama Billiat has come at the right time for Middendorp as he will need him, with Samir Nurkovic believed to be unavailable for this weekend’s important Telkom Knockout clash at Cape Town City.
If the duo can give the same performance that had their former mentor Pitso Mosimane purring despite Saturday’s 4-2 defeat, then Middendorp can surely rest assured that he has an attack capable of dismantling a stubborn City side.
“Ja. Ja. Ja… (they are) good players,” was all the mentor would say on the pair’s performance. But inasmuch as Middendorp is known to be a tough taskmaster, Billiat looks to have earned the German’s trust and respect and could be Amakhosi’s main man again going forward.
Middendorp, meanwhile, enthused about seeing the depth his team have, based on how they performed with a few of their regulars out with injuries.
“We are aware that we have quality players that have not really done the job or really have had the chance to play in the last games. I know the value of Samir (Nurkovic), Reeve (Frosler), George (Maluleka), Itu (Khune) and so on, but I am very happy about this showing and competitiveness.
“We have another week to prepare before we play next Saturday. I personally enjoy it very much when I have a number of players with certain qualities – not just in the so-called ‘first Xl’,” he said.
He is also experienced enough to know that despite the emphatic win over Sundowns auguring well for his confidence in the team, they have issues they need to address if they are to continue their good run.
“I am not getting carried away in terms of getting the results today. We have to chat about certain moments of the game, in terms of the transition and the attacking. We have a very clear understanding of what was good and what can be better,” he said.