Middendorp maintains calm after Q1 success

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Kaizer Chiefs head coach Ernst Middendorp is not getting carried away with the achievement of winning Q1 innovation in the Absa Premiership this season.

The Q-innovation is a concept that was introduced by the PSL more than five years ago to bring in some excitement in the league title race.

The season is broken down into four quarters, with Q1 and Q3 consisting of eight matches and Q2 and Q4 made up of seven matches.

Amakhosi clinched the first eight matches with 19 points and they have won R1,5 million in the process. But Middendorp is looking beyond this.

With the R1,5 million prize money, it means something to the dressing room and Amakhosi midfielder George “Mido” Maluleka says this is very good for building the momentum towards the big fish come end of the season.

Maluleka, Bernard Parker, Itumeleng Khune, Erick Mathoho are just some of the players who were part of the team when Chiefs last won Q-innovation back in 2014/2015 season. Interestingly, this is also the season they last lifted the league trophy and Maluleka has drawn some similarities between Stuart Baxter and Middendorp’s teams.

Middendorp has confirmed that Zimbabwean international attacker Khama Billiat is not available for selection this weekend ahead of their second last game of 2019 this weekend as they host a high riding Bloemfontein Celtic team at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday night (20:15).

The German-born mentor says they are using this period to get Billiat fresher for the last game of the year against Maritzburg United.

For a player who has not had a quiet of season and has been busy with the national team doing the Cosafa Senior Challenge and the Afcon as well as domestic competitions, Middendorp and Chiefs’ medical team’s plan of putting Billiat on a special programme to recover his tight hamstring and manage his fitness makes a lot of sense.

Chiefs will play Celtic, a team that has not lost a league game since September (last loss in the league was away to Black Leopards on the 29th of September). As usual, Middendorp has done his thorough homework on his opponents.

Sitting comfortably 10 points clear at the top with only three games before they wrap up their first-round, surely Middendorp and his camp are looking at maintaining this double figures gap between them and the title-chasers come the end of 2019.

Report by Velile Mnyandu