While Orlando Pirates Manager Josef Zinnbauer appears calm and ready for his debut Soweto Derby appearance, his opposite number Ernst Middendorp is on tenterhook.
The pressure of the Soweto Derby is weighing heavily on Middendorp among other reasons because of the title race implications.
As at December, Chiefs were running away with the title as they built a 10 points gap over second placed Mamelodi Sundowns.
Fast forward to February and the lead has been cut to four points with Chiefs’ form hitting a low of late and its the goalkeeping department that has taken the fall for it all.
Kaizer Chiefs emergency first choice goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi has come under a flurry of criticism particularly for the defeat to Maritzburg United and could be dropped for the now fit Itumeleng Khune.
Khune is the fans’ choice for the derby since the 33 year-old returned to full fitness, having injured his shoulder in 2018 and was out for almost a year.
He had a relapse and was out for a further 96 days, but has since returned between the sticks in the Cup.
Ahead of Saturday’s crunch game, Middendorp has admitted he could consider yield to the fans clamour and hand Khune a starter’s berth – who has only made two league appearances this season.
H/t Soccer Laduma Middendorp said, “I absolutely respect opinions.”
“There’s no doubt about it. I put it always into the process of decision making, but we have competence in our technical team to see what is the solution.
“I understand fully a certain emotional attachment to certain type of players – so what must I say? I understand, and I respect it. Probably he (Khune) is on the field, why not? As one option.”
Per Mazola Molefe Middendorp was pressed on how tough a decision it is to make, and the Coach admit that, “It’s a very tough decision and each and everybody should respect it in the end and that’s it. Daniel has not taken a mental knock at all,” he explained.
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