For a man who started the 2019/20 season on the backfoot and his future a thorny issue, Ernst Middendorp has turned the Soweto giants’ fortunes around and is doing a stellar job in keeping all the pieces together at Kaizer Chiefs.
The German has converted Amakhosi into strong league contenders this season, though the Siya crew has learnt of disharmony between the coach and some senior players - those who have been mostly overlooked. A coach who works excessively long hours and demands that those around him try keep up, Middendorp may have ruffled a few feathers in his one-year stay at Naturena to date, with an outburst from digital manager Kemiso Motaung and star player George Maluleka’s social ‘endorsements’ suggesting that not everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Middendorp is at the top of the table, so the big question is why is he not getting the full support that he needs for Kaizer Chiefs to clinch the Absa Premiership?
What the Siya crew has been told…
Senior players divided..
Ernst Middendorp’s Kaizer Chiefs are sitting pretty at the top of the Absa Premiership, and despite the German’s success, he is unnecessarily being forced into holding a divided camp together.
Insiders have painted a picture of a discord brewing with some players at Naturena, especially those who have found themselves on the sidelines sinceMiddendorp took over the coaching reins at Amakhosi a year ago - to the month.
Parts of it played out in the build-up and aftermath of the club’s Telkom Knockout defeat to Maritzburg United.
The loss, a 2-1 defeat, officially stretched Chiefs’ trophy drought to five years and contributed in the club’s dirty laundry being aired out. First, with confusion over the fitness keeper Itumeleng Khune and some senior players apparently questioning Middendorp’s team selection.
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We have a problem
For this reason, Clinton Larsen was shown the door as head coach, but still, under new mentor Norman Mapeza, the struggle persists, although they did win two games on the trot recently.
They have the character
Cut Lehlohonolo Seema’s skin andhe’ll probably bleed green andwhite – such has been the man’s loyalty to Bloemfontein Celtic. Born and bred in neighbouring Lesotho, the Mangaung outfit is a club that’s always had a pull factor on him. So much that it is they who pulled him from obscure Bantu United from the mountainous kingdom in 1998, and he would go on to represent the club until 2006 when the allure of Orlando Pirates, understandably, proved too great a pull factor. Yet even a five-year spell with the Soweto giants, which included a season-long loan stint at Mpumalanga Black Aces, would not prevent him being pulled back in the direction of Siwelele, albeit to begin a coaching journey in the junior ranks. The next step was to become an assistant, a job he performed with aplomb, before being called on to take the hotseat together with John Maduka after the departure of Steve Komphela at the tail end of 2018. Much against general expectation, the duo has done fairly well, if Celtic’s off-field troubles of the recent past are to be taken into consideration. Soccer Laduma’s Beaver Nazo sat down with Seema to discuss this, that, and the other.
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Before signing for Mamelodi Sundowns last season,Lyle Lakay knew that he would be used as a leftback and not in his preferred left wing position, something that he surprisingly did not have a problem with. In his first season with the club last term, he played a key role as they went onto win an unprecedented ninth Absa Premiership league title. This season has been a bit of a slow one for Lakay, who has been used mostly as a substitute, but there’s still a lot of football to be played both locally and on the continent, so he has time to fight for his place in the starting line-up. In this interview, the former Cape Town City and Bloemfontein Celtic player chats to Soccer Laduma’s Tshepang Mailwane about his time at the Tshwane giants so far, their chances of winning the CAF Champions League and why he believes they can close the gap on current Kaizer Chiefs, who have been in fine form since the start of the campaign.
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