Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp welcomed the timing of the current FIFA international week as he outlined his plans to get some players ready for action.
Chiefs have stormed to the top of the Absa Premiership table in the opening 11 matches – winning nine of these and losing just one – as they now hold a 10-point advantage.
While the Amakhosi faithful would have wanted to continue watching and spurring their team on during their purple patch, Middendorp feels it is an opportune time to work on some players’ fitness as they look to return to competitive action following various layoffs.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s Nigeria, Zambia or South Africa, or the under-23 players, it’s all about qualification and it’s games from the 13th up to the 19th, so we’ll give the other players a rest,” said Middendorp.
“We started early like all the teams in the middle of June, so we haven’t really had breaks. Just remember in October there was a break, but we played Shell Helix Cup and Macufe Cup, plus the national team players [were active].
“We’ll look into bringing some players back, like Kearyn Baccus, Reeve Frosler, who can at the moment only delver 65-70 percent from the physical side.
“And, of course, it’s no secret that if you have a number of players from your first 11-12 coming from a long-term injury, it’s definitely something I know that not everything can go into the right direction.
“We have moments in the game where you think, ‘What happened here? What is going on? We could do better, and we expect to be better already.’
“But, if you sit down and process it, you go through the dynamics and realise we have some players who are not too prepared as yet.
“So, this is our chance to bring and pay attention to these individuals’ periodisation - guys like Rama [Mphahlele], Baccus, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo and other players to bring them up to the same level as the rest of the team, and then start altogether on the 17th or 18th, when the first team players are all back.”