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Telkom Knockout Cup: Tinkler vs Middendorp - Who stands a better chance?

06:03 SAST 2019/11/22
Ernst Middendorp, coach of Kaizer Chiefs, September 2019
With Amakhosi set to host the Team of Choice in Nelspruit, Goal picks a coach who is in a better position to guide his side to the final

Ernst Middendorp's Kaizer Chiefs are standing between Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler and Telkom Knockout Cup final history.

Tinkler will be looking to become the first coach to guide the Team of Choice to the final of the lucrative tournament when they face Amakhosi at Mbombela Stadium on Sunday

The former South Africa international is also hoping to go all the way and win his second Telkom Knockout title as a coach having won the competition with Cape Town City in 2016.

Middendorp is under pressure to end Amakhosi's four-year trophy drought after the Soweto giants were embarrassed by TS Galaxy in the 2019 Nedbank Cup final six months ago.

The German tactician is no stranger to winning trophies with Chiefs, having led the team to the SAA Supa 8 (MTN8) and Absa Cup (Nedbank Cup) triumphs in his first stint with the club.

Goal discusses and picks a coach who is in a good position to guide his side to the final:

 

Current Form


Chiefs are the in-form team in the country at the moment having won eight consecutive matches across all competitions including impressive wins over their rivals Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates.

Middendorp seems to have found the winning formula at the Naturena-based side and consistency has been key for the team which is a major ingredient in winning trophies.

On the other hand, Maritzburg have also been in top form as they are undefeated in their seven competitive games having defeated Bidvest Wits and held Orlando Pirates to a draw.

Tinkler has instilled a sense of confidence and a never-say-die mentality in his players with the team being able to bounce back from in-game mishaps having come from behind to beat both Wits and Highlands Park in the Telkom Knockout.

 

Squad Depth


The two teams' squad depth will be tested as they will be without some of their key players when they clash in the eagerly-anticipated Cup match.

Goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defender Erick Mathoho and midfield maestro Willard Katsande are all suspended and Middendorp will have to find a way to mastermind a victory over Maritzburg without the influential trio.

The 61-year-old tactician is expected to bring in Bruce Bvuma, Lorenzo Gordinho and possibly James Kotei to fill the void left by the abovementioned players.

While Maritzburg defenders Siyanda Xulu and Kwanda Mngonyama will be missing due to injury and suspension respectively, Tinkler could look to the forgotten Thamsanqa Sangweni.

 

Who Are The Favourites?

Middendorp's men are clear favourites to advance to the final for a record-extending 18th time based on their incredible winning run which makes them the team to beat at the moment.

The veteran coach also masterminded a 1-0 league win over Tinkler's men in their last meeting between the two teams earlier this year to extend Chiefs' unbeaten run against Maritzburg to 10 competitive games.

Furthermore, squad depth gives Chiefs the edge over Maritzburg having managed to maintain their winning form despite losing key players like Itumeleng Khune, Kearyn Baccus and Reeve Frosler to injuries.

For Tinkler's side, the defence has been the cornerstone for winning, having kept four clean sheets in their last seven competitive games.

So without key defenders like Mngonyama and Xulu, who have been influential for the team this season, Maritzburg will offer little resistance against a free-scoring Chiefs side.