Kaizer Chiefs Ernst Middendorp was still reeling from the Nedbank Cup elimination at the weekend, but signalled how crucial the upcoming Soweto Derby will be to Amakhosi’s Absa Premiership title hopes.
The Glamour Boys were knocked out of the cup by Highlands Park on Saturday afternoon via penalties, meaning Chiefs now only have the league title as their only potential silverware since winning the championship back in May 2015.
Amakhosi will now take on archrivals Orlando Pirates this weekend at FNB Stadium, a fixture already confirmed to be sold out.
“We need to focus on the next game and be concentrating on it now as quick as possible. I don’t know (if it’s the perfect time for the derby), all we know is that there is a game on Saturday with a big attendance,” Middendorp told reporters.
“It’s a huge result at stake and we are aware about it. They (players) are disappointed, there’s no doubt about it. But under the circumstance, it was not a game that we could be ourselves.”
He also came to the defence of the two players who failed to convert their spot kicks following a 1-1 draw with Highlands during open play.
“That is the situation with penalties, and the two who missed on our side – George (Maluleka) and Khama (Billiat) – normally it’s 100 percent every time in training, and regularly. In the end it’s not to comment. It’s a penalty shootout and Highlands Park have qualified. We win together and we don’t qualify together. There’s no one to blame,” said Middendorp.