Kaizer Chiefs were expected to march into the Telkom Knockout final before they had even travelled to Nelspruit, and Ernst Middendorp admitted his charges failed to handle the expectations.
Chiefs, having swept aside all that came before them and carrying an eight-game unbeaten run across the league and cup competition prior to the FIFA break, were largely expected by their supporters to make slight work of Maritzburg United in their semi-final clash at the weekend.
However, it was a complete twist to the story line when the Team of Choice flexed their muscle and dominated proceedings at Mbombela Stadium to earn themselves a 2-1 victory and a spot in their first ever League cup final.
Speaking after the match, Middendorp reflected on where things went wrong for his side, while admitting his players just couldn’t live up to the ‘favourites’ tag with which they were labelled prior to the match.
"We definitely didn’t take our role as being the favourites [by virtue of] probably having more individual quality, and we made it probably a little too easy in certain moments, providing a very good situation and giving Maritzburg an opportunity to go 1-0 ahead,” conceded Middendorp.
“Okay, good, you build up the team with some very good spirit and we had our problems. In our rest defence, we were definitely not present; our combination in midfield was non-existent.
“It was a bit surprising [the way we played] but of course it’s always an option to skip a midfield line, but it was too much. We didn’t really play as we have seen before.
“Unfortunately we ended up equalising and then you should normally expect that we are capable of going with 1-1 into extra-time and then try to handle it, but that didn’t work.”