Chiefs coach Middendorp reveals how he keeps the opposition guessing with his tactics
Ernst Middendorp has explained how he always tries to come up with something “a little bit different” in his formations to keep opposition coaches guessing‚ and have tactics suited to particular adversaries.
Kaizer Chiefs’ coach again had something unexpected up his sleeve as his team clinically muscled out Highlands Park 3-0 at FNB Stadium on Wednesday night to extend their Absa Premiership lead over second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns to six points.
Chiefs bounced back from a 2-1 defeat to third-placed SuperSport United on Saturday where utilising Bernard Parker and Philani Zulu as wingers did not quite come off for Middendorp.
Chiefs lacked pace out wide‚ though they still did hit the post three times.
Middendorp made five changes‚ some enforced‚ for Highlands.
His midfield four – with Willard Katsande and George Maluleka behind Kearyn Baccus and Lebogang Manyama‚ in a block rather than a diamond‚ and with no wingers – was quite unorthodox.
It was yet another system not yet seen from Chiefs this season.
It was effective for Amakhosi – and awkward for Park coach Owen Da Gama to figure out – as Chiefs put three unanswered goals past Highlands in front of a big‚ 45‚000 midweek crowd in their free entrance 50th birthday game.
“That’s why your sleeping time gets a little bit shorter [in the build-up to matches]‚ for one or two days trying to figure out what’s done‚” Middendorp said afterwards.
“I think it was important for us to create something where we ourselves feel comfortable with the players we had available.
“And I think actually the movement was dragging [Highlands’] players in certain directions‚ stretching them here and there – horizontal‚ vertical.
"We had clear ideas about how we wanted to do it.
“It’s always a little bit different. It’s always a bit of looking into the opponent – coming there and trying to make it a bit difficult for everybody.
“And yeah‚ it sometimes works. And most of the time‚ thank God‚ it has worked during the season with the players we have.
“With players who understand.
"We discuss‚ and we have this core of players who can direct it.”
Chiefs meet Cape Town City next on Sunday at FNB (kickoff 3.30pm).