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Kaizer Chiefs can handle the pressure says head coach

Kaizer Chiefs head coach Ernst Middendorp says that his players can handle the pressure of playing in their 50th-anniversary match.

Chiefs celebrated their 50th anniversary on Tuesday 7 January and have chosen their home fixture against Highlands Park on Wednesday night as an additional celebration.

Their rivals from Joburgs Northern Suburbs will want to play spoiler and have their own ambitions in the league when they face current table-toppers Kaizer Chiefs.

For Highlands, the pressure is off, but Chiefs have to deal with the added expectations of the thousands of fans who have been gifted tickets to join in on the celebrations.

The FNB Stadium is expected to be packed, given the tickets given away since December, and bouncing with a party atmosphere. That will bring expectations of great success, something Middendorp is confident his team can deliver.

Kaizer Chiefs can handle the pressure

Chiefs coach wants his charges to draw inspiration from the rich history of South Africa’s most popular club.

“I think we should take it as an inspiration about the importance of a game like this, that we make sure we take it in a positive way,” said Middendorp.

“Of course, it’s definitely something that has to be highlighted and will be recognized by players as a game that has a lot at stake to win.”

The trainer backed his senior players to step up for the occasion.

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Daniel Cardoso of Kaizer Chiefs celebrates with teammates scoring a penalty during the Absa Premiership 2019/20 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at FSoccer City, Polokwane, on 09 November 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

“But, as I said already with the pressure, we have players like Willard Katsande, Daniel [Cardoso], Itu Khune, Lebogang Manyama, Leonardo Castro, and, and, and – players with a lot of experience and grown-up mentality should handle it.

“Of course, a certain number of players coming into the team will be a little bit more excited by the occasion, but I think the balance of the right experience and grown-up mentality, and the right freshness is there to handle the situation.”

With Sundowns making up ground on the league leaders in December Chiefs could really do with a result as more than just an excellent way to top off their anniversary. 

Downs faltered on Tuesday but the fact that their dropped points came against fellow title hopefuls Bidvest Wits means that result serves as little consolation for the Glamour Boys. Wits have games in hand, and if they go well they could overtake Chiefs once they catch up.

Middendorp’s Kaizer Chiefs can move nine points clear of Sundowns at the top of the table if they beat Highlands Park.

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