As Kaizer Chiefs enters the last 10 games of the Absa Premiership season territory, how they manage their lead at the top is very important, according to the head coach Ernst Middendorp.

He was speaking at the Soweto derby press conference on Thursday afternoon ahead of their crunch encounter against arch-rivals Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon (15:30).

The two teams are separated by only six points with Chiefs (45) ahead of third-placed Pirates (39), with Amakhosi having a game in hand.

Middendorp says they will have to be smart about the run-in as he also analyses his opponents going to this game:

One of the main talking points going to this derby is who will walk out on the pitch as Chiefs’ number one goalkeeper as Middendorp has been facing a lot of questions in recent weeks on who should start in this game.

Last week he was clear that captain Itumeleng Khune will play in cup matches and Daniel Akpeyi in the league but is Middendorp changing his tune now.

It’s also the first time in the history of the Soweto derby that two German head coaches will be going toe to toe.

Middendorp, who has been in the country longer than his Pirates counterpart and fellow countryman Josef Zinnbauer, has downplayed this German link:

Middendorp will be taking part in his eighth Soweto derby when also counting his first spell at Chiefs between 2005 and 2007.

The 61-year-old has never lost an official Soweto derby and it would be interesting what he thinks Zinnbauer is going through ahead of this sold-out game to be played in front of more 90 000 crowd.

Middendorp has played seven official Soweto derbies, won five and drawn two.

Chiefs, who have been cruising for the better part of this season, have hit a mini-slump after losing the last two matches to Maritzburg United and Highlands Park in the league and Nedbank Cup respectively.

Can they bounce back from these two losses, Middendorp feels there’s an exaggeration.

Pirates have got an impressive run of seven wins in eight matches under Zinnbauer, an unbeaten streak which has seen them reviving their chances of challenging for the league title.

But there’s also a school of thought that they are yet to be tested especially defensively.

Middendorp was not comfortable going into details:

Report by Velile Mnyandu