For the next seven days, South African football fans will be treated to a double dose of Soweto derby as archrivals Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will be battling it out in the Telkom Knockout quarterfinal on Saturday in Durban, and then again the next weekend.
Critical to this plan is how Middendorp will look to expose Pirates’ defensive frailties.
Chiefs are coming to this game on the back of a good run in the league, sitting five points clear at the top of the log and on a five match winning streak in all competitions.
Pirates has also been changing its squad a lot in recent matches; they’ve conceded nine goals in their last six matches and only kept two clean sheets.
Middendorp says it’s important that they arm their players in terms of what to expect from the opponents.
Whilst Bucs head coach Rhulani Mokwena opted to rest star player Thembinkosi Lorch midweek for their game against Highlands Park due to the threat of the yellow cards, Middendorp says he’s not bothered about their goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and Willard Katsande being on three yellow cards going to this game.
Previously, Middendorp was known as an abrasive coach, with some players referring to him as arrogant.
The German born coach who first came to the country in 2005 to join Chiefs, has also worked at clubs like Maritzburg United, Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars. In his second stint at Amakhosi since December last year, he touches on a calmer approach this time around.
This is going to be Mokwena’s first Soweto derby as the head coach, and a lot of questions have also been asked about his capability to lead this big club.
Middendorp, a well-traveled coach who has also been in charging of teams in the Bundesliga and in Asia, had interesting advice for Mokwena in the world of coaching, telling him to build his own reputation. – Report by Velile Mnyandu