Rama, Zulu set for Chiefs return

Nedbank Cup

Chiefs will be in Mdantsane to tackle the lower-league outfit in their Nedbank Cup opener, as they once again look to end their three-and-a-half-season trophy drought.

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The team, however, have experienced a spate of injuries in recent weeks, with several stars having been ruled out with long-term issues such as Itumeleng Khune and Lebogang Manyama.

A welcome boost though is the return of Bafana Bafana fullback Ramahlwe Mphahlele as well as left winger Philani Zulu, who Middendorp has already assured is part of his plans for the weekend.

“We had a little bit of a question mark with George Maluleka at training this morning, it’s a little bit uncertain and we’re not 100 percent sure – some parts he can do, some parts it’s flashing [sic], so he has a calf problem again and he’s going for an appointment this evening,” said Middendorp.

“We are really happy to see ‘Rama’ back, of course. He played in the Diski team on Saturday and he definitely will be part of the squad. As for how far we will use him, already my plan is to give him a 45-minute run.

“Philani Zulu started training on Tuesday, he will as of this moment also be a member of the squad, which means one or two will go out but one or two will come back in.”

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Middendorp also provided feedback on fringe players like Bhongolwethu Jayiya and Gustavo Paez, who he says are likely to move up the pecking order given the numerous withdrawals.

“It’s good. I think players who haven’t really been part of the squad – like ‘Bongo’ Jayiya, we’re working on him and he could be useful particularly now that Lebogang Manyama is out,” he added.

“Gustavo Paez – we’re trying to bring them closer and eventually in [to the squad]. These are good players, no doubt about it. They got a little lost in the past but it’s our responsibility to put in [work]. It’s not only about players who are falling out with injury, but some need to come in.”

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