“It is very interesting to see the mood in the camp,” commented coach Ernst Middendorp after the pre-match training session on Friday. “Usually you find players looking tense before an important game, but I am happy to see that they all look at ease and in good spirit.”
Kaizer Chiefs arrived on Good Friday in the ‘Windy City’, Port Elizabeth, for their Nedbank Cup semi-final assignment against Chippa United.
“We have seen in the previous three rounds,” Middendorp pointed out, “that there was always that will to advance to the next stage. And I see this now again, they really want to win.”
The matches against the lower division sides were tight, after which the Glamour Boys raised the bar against Cape Town City in the quarterfinal.
“It promises to be a tough match,” admitted Middendorp, while looking ahead to Saturday evening’s encounter against Chippa. “They beat top sides like Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits to reach this stage, which shows that they’re a good side.
“They also have good players in Thabo Rakgale, Mark Manyambela and Kurt Lentjies, to name a few.”
Some Chiefs players who had been starting in recent games didn’t take part in last week’s league fixture against Black Leopards in Thohoyandou, including Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya, Kgotso Moleko and Leonardo Castro.
“We didn’t travel with those that were on the verge of suspensions,” the Chiefs coach explained. “However, they are all available for selection for this game. We have a solid squad to come up with a good line-up.”
Middendorp is heading into the Chippa match aware that this will be Amakhosi’s fourth cup semi-final in a row.
The coach, however, prefers not to look past tonight’s match. “Our eyes are solely focussed on the game against Chippa. Nothing else matters at this stage.”
Kick-off for this much-anticipated cup encounter taking place at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will be at 20:15.