Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp: 'I’m not counting the points'
Kaizer Chiefs moved past the 40-point mark‚ with more than two-thirds of the season remaining‚ but coach Ernst Middendorp refused to be drawn into title predictions after his side beat Cape Town City 3-0 on Sunday.
A total of 41 points out of a possible 51 is an impressive return by any team‚ never mind past standards‚ with only 10 points dropped in the league campaign to date.
Whether Chiefs are now well on track for the championship is a question Middendorp faces being repeatedly asked as the Premier Soccer League moves towards its business end‚ but the taciturn German has so far held firm in refusing to suggest his side are on course to finally end their trophy drought.
It is‚ however‚ hard to see them not doing it.
Sunday’s success moved them nine points clear of defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns and 10 clear of third placed SuperSport United‚ who have played one game more.
Sundowns have one game to catch up and Bidvest Wits are still in the mix‚ but this is now Chiefs’ title to lose.
“I’ve said it before that I’m not counting the points.
"The focus is on the game just past and the game immediately ahead of us‚” he insisted.
In a veiled message to his players as they next head to Thohoyandou to meet struggling Black Leopards‚ he added: “Let’s focus on our mindset and leave the other stuff out.”
But there was an admission that when things are well‚ they tend to stay that way.
The scoreline against City at FNB Stadium was comprehensive but there were long periods of the game where Chiefs were bossed by their visitors.
But while City were full of flair with no flavour‚ Chiefs got the job done in an old fashioned way with three powerful headers.
The first two came from open play as Leonardo Castro had them ahead after only 11 minutes and Samir Nurkovic emphasised his quality with the second goal in the 63rd minute.
Mulomowandau Mathoho then headed home from a corner straight after that to kill off City.
“The results are a sign of our confidence. It’s all about doing the basics‚” added Middendorp.
“Actually‚ this might surprises you but I think our best game of the three since the new year was the loss to SuperSport.
“It is not always the result that tells us what happens on the field.”
That was true of Sunday’s game where Chiefs were pegged back after going 1-0 up and Middendorp forced to change it at halftime as Castro struggled and Kearyn Baccus did not offer enough out wide.
“It was not a game of excellence but we managed to get our goals at the right moments.
“It was a third game in seven days so we knew there could be a lack of focus and we need therefore our structure.
“But there was also not a lot that we have to criticise‚” he added.