Middendorp suggests Kaizer Chiefs striker Castro’s injuries can be mental

Leonardo Castro and his Kaizer Chiefs teammates walk onto the pitch at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg before their Absa Premiership match against Orlando Pirates on October 27, 2018.
Leonardo Castro and his Kaizer Chiefs teammates walk onto the pitch at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg before their Absa Premiership match against Orlando Pirates on October 27, 2018.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has suggested that his big Colombian centre-forward Leonardo Castro’s injuries can stem as much from the player’s mind as his body.

Middendorp on Thursday said he was not sure if Castro would be ready for Saturday’s Absa Premiership match against Highlands Park at Moses Mabhida Stadium from a sickness/groin injury that kept him out of last weekend’s 1-1 away draw against Polokwane City.

The coach suggested Castro’s “knock” had stemmed partly from the striker being disgruntled from a poor performance‚ where he had missed chances and been on the end of some physical challenges‚ in Chiefs’ Nedbank Cup win against third division The Magic two weekends ago.

Middendorp expressed a concern that the striker could become more mentally tough facing niggling injuries.

He said Castro started training this week “on Monday‚ Tuesday slow. I don’t know how far he is prepared to do‚ and be the right one”.

Pressed on the nature of Castro’s injury‚ Middendorp said: “Leo didn’t come with us to Polokwane. Let’s be honest‚ of course‚ it’s out of the cup game‚ missing [chances] and getting hammered.

“There is definitely something. He got a bit of sickness‚ a bit of a groin injury. But now‚ don’t ask me how far [he is from coming back].

“It’s an entire thing. Players do not only play with the legs‚ they play with the mindset too.

“Of course you could see‚ not really presenting a high level of confidence [against Magic].

“OK‚ then he pulled out because of sickness‚ because of an injury‚ as I said.”

Chiefs’ coach is not the first to make allusions to Castro’s fickleness in the face of injuries.

Castro’s previous club‚ Mamelodi Sundowns‚ have made such a notion an open secret since he left the Brazilians to join Chiefs in January 2017.

Middendorp was asked if he expects a foreign star to show more mental toughness than Castro has.

“Yes‚ of course‚ there is always this. That if the club is going to bring in high profile players‚ then let’s take it from the other side – then they of course have expectation‚” the coach said.

“But it is very often something where you have to do a certain homework. You have to be very clear.

“Bringing players into Kaizer Chiefs‚ or Orlando Pirates‚ or other big clubs‚ you must know‚ every friendly‚ every cup or PSL game‚ you have to win.

“And if you do a certain [game] not right‚ of course‚ you have to be strong to continue‚ doing and showing your best.

“Of course it was a bit of a surprise to see that there was a bit of a knock. Of course‚ [there was] disappointment on his side.

“But I believe he needs the support. And I believe he is still able to give us a good run during the run-in to the end of the season.”

Chiefs are in sixth place in the PSL‚ and Highlands in ninth.

X