“It was one of those games where we did everything to win but it was not to be,” reflects Ernst Middendorp. “Highlands Park brought their A-game to us and we couldn’t unlock them to create enough chances to score.”
Middendorp watched in disbelief his side’s exit in the Nedbank Cup round of 16 against Lions of the North. “Both teams played under unfavourable conditions,” says Middendorp. “We struggled a bit to adapt but I thought we could have been awarded a penalty during extra time when Dumsani Zuma was tripped with a clear chance to score.”
The end-to-end match played in front of a capacity crowd under stormy weather conditions was settled on penalties. First, George Maluleka missed a chance to give Chiefs an advantage during the penalty shootout when he sent the ball over the bar. And in sudden death, Khama Billiat hit the upright, which gave Highlands Park the advantage to win.
“Going into a penalty shootout in any knockout competition is always nerve wrecking,” admits Middendorp. “It is a pity that our senior players missed their kicks. We are not going to play the blame anyone for the loss. We will have to regroup and work on the next game.
“It is a run of unfortunate decisions if you start from the game we lost against SuperSport United in the league. We lost against Maritzburg United last week and judging by the reviews we were denied the penalty that could have changed the game. We will take it in the spirit of football and move on. We will remain calm, keep our focus and prepare for the next match.”
Chiefs will face archrivals Orlando Pirates in a much-anticipated Soweto Derby on Saturday at FNB Stadium.