COMMENT: Can Middendorp do what Komphela failed to do at Kaizer Chiefs in the Nedbank Cup?

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Chiefs last won the Nedbank Cup in 2013 under Stuart Baxter, and they will attempt to reach their first final since then when they take on Chippa Utd

Ernst Middendorp only rejoined Kaizer Chiefs toward the end of 2018, and in his first few months in charge, he has managed to reach the Nedbank Cup semi-finals. 

Amakhosi crashed out at the same stage last year when Steve Komphela lost to former club Free State Stars; this was also his last game in charge of the Soweto giants as he was forced to resign following the ugly scenes at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. 

Surprisingly, Komphela, who is now with Golden Arrows, is also in the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup, and should he beat TS Galaxy and Chiefs get past Chippa United, he will get the chance to face his former club and perhaps settle the score. 

But all eyes will be on Middendorp whose team has been consistent in this year's tournament, but completely different in the league. 

Middendorp is under immense pressure to at least get past the semi-final stages and do what Komphela failed to do in his final season with Amakhosi last year. But can he Middendorp it? 


 PLAYERS


Kaizer Chiefs, December 2018

Yes, he can! Middendorp has all the best players available at his disposal to make this mission possible. 

One would argue that Komphela didn't have the type of players that Middendorp has, especially looking at how the club made some huge signings after the departure of the Kroonstad-born mentor at the beginning of the season. 

While the Nedbank Cup may be Amakhosi's last hope of salvaging what has been a disappointing season, it is also worth noting that Middendorp found a team that was short of confidence. 

However, Chiefs fans will take that as an excuse should they lose to Chippa, and for this reason, the German-born mentor has to make sure that he fields his strongest possible starting line-up without leaving anyone influential on the bench or out in the stands. 

On paper, Chiefs have the squad capable of dismantling Chippa United, and how Middendorp plans for Clinton Larsen's men will be key on the day. 


 SOLD DEFENCE


Hadebe Nedbank Cup

Chiefs have done pretty well in the previous three rounds of the competition even though they were pitted against minnows in the first two rounds. 

Facing teams from the ABC Motsepe League was a test of character for Amakhosi players and the technical team, and they had to grind out results to be where they are today.

The Magic FC and Tornado FC gave them a good run for their money, but those two matches really helped boost Amakhosi's confidence ahead of the clash with Cape Town City in the quarter-finals. 

The two matches taught them not to underestimate their opponents and they did just that against City. They will need more of the same performance and determination to get past Chippa on Saturday. 

Chiefs are yet to concede a goal thus far, and that's one of the positives Middendorp should take going into this encounter against Larsen's charges. 


ATTACK


Khama Billiat, Kaizer Chiefs

If there's one thing that Komphela failed to do at Chiefs against FS Stars last year, was to attack from the first whistle. 

This Chiefs team has too many attacking players to go into a defence mode at this stage of the competition, and Middendorp has to silence his critics by ensuring that he throws everything at Chippa from the word go. 

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He has heavily been criticized for fielding six defenders in recent weeks and should he continue with the same approach, he will likely fall into the same trap that saw Chiefs go down to Ea Lla Koto this time last year. 

Like Komphela, Middendorp also gets to face his former club, and he should not take them for granted because just like Chiefs, the Port Elizabeth-based side reached the semi-finals on merit.

Overall, Middendorp has no excuses. He has to reach the final and possibly win the trophy to at least bring a smile on the faces of millions of Amakhosi fans, who are beginning to question his re-appointment as their head coach, especially n ow that the Naturena-based side is struggling to move up the ladder on the PSL standings.

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