Chiefs were held to to a 1-1 stalemate at the Mbombela Stadium on Friday evening as Matsatsantsa also saw their own title hopes take a knock with just six games left in the campaign.
Despite the three points available for the taking, Middendorp’s first throw of the dice saw wing-back Ntiya-Ntiya hauled off for towering centre-back Teenage Hadebe just after the hour-mark, leaving many questioning Amakhosi’s intentions in the match.
But the German tactician has since clarified his tactical move, outlining that the youth graduate was under siege while another risk was being reduced to 10-men.
“First of all, the player had a yellow card. Secondly, the internal structure at this moment was that they played only long balls starting at their goalkeeper and [Clayton] Daniels,” explained Middendorp.
“They had their number-seven [Bradley Grobler] stretching to the side and figured out that that was our weakest point in terms of heading, and then they worked with the second ball.
“Understandably, if you’re sleeping on the bench and let it go, I don’t think that’s the right answer or the right way to [respond], considering firstly that Ntiya-Ntiya had a yellow card.
“Their strategy was also to pull Daniel Cardoso out of position – going this way with the throw-ins, going that way with the long kicks from the back. So I thought it was a good idea to bring in a player with a little bit more heading quality.”