Ernst: If George wasn't joining Downs...

Premiership

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has described the decision to let go of midfielder George Maluleka as painful but defended that his new destination made it necessary.

Maluleka was released by Chiefs upon the expiry of his contract at the end of June after the club decided not to retain him on a short-term deal to see out the remainder of the 2019/20 season.

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The player has since joined his new club Mamelodi Sundowns in training, though he cannot take any further part in the Absa Premiership title race, which is set to resume this evening.

Middendorp has since explained that, given Sundowns are their main rivals in the run-in to the championship, releasing the 31-year-old was "painful" but in the best interest of Amakhosi.

"We discussed it inside the club, even the player himself was involved with the management, and we came to the conclusion that it's a delicate situation," Middendorp told the club's media team.

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"If the new club would have been, let's say, SuperSport [United] or another team that's not really competitive with Kaizer Chiefs for the championship this season, I would say it would probably be a different story.

"But, knowing that the new club is Mamelodi Sundowns, it was very clear that we had to make a decision [to let him go].

"I think this decision is on one side painful, because he was absolutely one of our core players since the beginning of the season in building the team, but we have options inside.

"I'm quite confident that we will get it right, pairing up the centre of the midfield with Willard Katsande as a first choice, and let's see. We haven't decided in the end, there are two or three options in the squad, and we will make the decision latest on Wednesday."

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