At first I misjudged Castro: Middendorp

Reading Time: 3 minutes

At the end of last season, Leonardo Castro looked set to be one of the players who were going to be offloaded at Kaizer Chiefs as they looked to build a new attack for the 2019/2020 season.

But at the beginning of the season, tough decisions had to be made as they had six foreigners and could only register five, but Castro was retained with Dax moving to Black Leopards.

After a total of 17 games in the Absa Premiership this season, the Colombian international striker is sitting on seven goals from 12 matches in all competitions. This is a good return comparing that he scored the same number of goals in 32 matches last season.

Castro’s combination with Samir Nurkovic sees them on a combined number of 16 goals this season and after scoring a brace during the 3-0 demolition of Highlands Park on Wednesday night, head coach Ernst Middendorp says they made a good decision by retaining the 30-year-old.

The real test for the team which is contesting the league title is always in the second round, not only in terms of results and quality of the squad but also on how you manage it.

For some time now, there’s been a concern about the relationship between Middendorp and some of the senior players at Chiefs, with some believed to have had a frosty relationship with him.

But this week, he’s returned a number of these players to the matchday squads, the likes of Itumeleng Khune, Willard Katsande, Khama Billiat, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya and Kgotso Moleko just to count a few. Some of them delivered for him at FNB Stadium last night and the German-born coach knows that they are going to be key as they approach the finishing line.

Having lost only their second league game of the season to SuperSport United last weekend, there was a lot of pressure coming to this game for Chiefs.

With the club celebrating the 50th anniversary, a win was a must in this birthday bash. But most importantly, Chiefs had to extend the gap between them and the chasing pack and Middendorp was a relieved man after the game.

Despite Chiefs leading by six points as things stand after 17 matches, there’s still a feeling amongst many that defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns still have an edge in this title race with their quality squad and experience.

Middendorp was asked last night about the importance of extending this gap just for safety purposes.Report by Velile Mnyandu