The German mentor didn’t want to make excuses for Amakhosi’s defeat to Highlands Park but lamented the field and luck on the day
Kaizer Chiefs head coach Ernst Middendorp said his side lacked a bit of luck to seal their passage to the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup while also admitting Highlands Park were tough for his players on the day.
The Lions of the North opened the scoring through Peter Shalulile but an own goal by Sello Motsepe brought Amakhosi back into the game before Owen Da Gama’s men won the game 5-4 on penalties.
Middendorp went further to blame the pitch at Makhulong Stadium, saying it denied them an opportunity to their passing game.
“A penalty shoot-out, in the end, wasn’t enough to qualify us. It is a little bit of a situation where probably the team lacked a little bit more luck in the end, [a team that was] a bit tougher made it,” Middendorp told SuperSportTV.
“It was very difficult regarding the field – the passing, a lot of possessional moments where we missed the ball too long or the ball not getting into the direction of our players.”
“It’s really not to stand here and look for excuses but I think everyone who was part of this afternoon knows it was a little bit of up and down and good. Unfortunately, we have not made it. We have to compliment the opponent; congratulations to Highlands Park,” he said.
The 61-year-old mentor also explained the reason behind making two changes at the start of the second half, saying the communication wasn’t there with Anthony Akumu on the pitch while he needed George Maluleka to compliment Khama Billiat in central midfield.
Middendorp said while he was happy with the changes he made, he still feels the pitch made it difficult for them to penetrate the Highlands Park defence.
“I think actually [Anthony] Akumu had his first 45 minutes, we had a bit of a miscommunication, not really as we wanted to see it. George [Maluleka] is good at complimenting [Khama] Billiat in the central [areas], we got a little bit of the ball in this passing.
“What we tried to do [was to] receive the ball and pass it through the midfield, good. Dumisani Zuma is always a player who can win one against one. With his variability, [he] can give us something.
“In the end, we saw what happened but, through the length of the entire extra-time, you need a field. You need something, if you want to do your dribbling, if you want to do your combination passing, it [more space] was not there – that’s the reason why I changed,” said Middendorp.