Chiefs draw sees them 12 points behind Sundowns and Pirates
Middendorp eager to keep star playmaker Pule
Kaizer Chiefs plucked a draw from the jaws of victory, having to settle for a 1-1 scoreline that belied their almost complete domination of Lamontville Golden Arrows in Wednesday night's Absa Premiership matchup at FNB Stadium.
Nduduzo Sibiya's strike completely against the run of play earned Arrows a 33rd-minute lead. After Chiefs had spurned a flow of chances, finally centreback Kgotso Moleko buried a header in the 77th.
In an intriguing subplot of the matchup at a personal level between former Chiefs coach Steve Komphela and current incumbent Ernst Middendorp, neither could prevail.
But it was Middendorp who might take some small satisfaction – mixed, no doubt, with a healthy dose of extreme frustration – as Chiefs missed chance after chance and Arrows scored from practically their lone opportunity.
Amakhosi, after their high of an epic 4-2 Nedbank Cup semifinal win against Chippa United in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, seemed determined not to repeat their league sag they suffered after their quarterfinal victory against Cape Town City.
Pretty much everything was there for Amakhosi, except luck and a finish or two – or four – more, as they struck the woodwork three times.
Middendorp did not have star attacker Khama Billiat, perhaps shaken by a minor car accident on Sunday, in Chiefs' match 18.
- Kaizer Chiefs’ coach Ernst Middendorp remains hopeful that the contractual dispute between attacking midfielder Pule Ekstein and the club will be resolved swiftly so that the player can be considered for selection in the remaining matches of the season.
Contract extension negotiations appear to have reached a deadlock, and Ekstein missed the club’s last two matches.
The player did not feature in the recent league match against Black Leopards, and he also did not make an appearance in the Nedbank Cup semifinal against Chippa United in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Middendorp urged the club to resolve whatever obstacles that may have led to one of his favourite players being relegated to the sidelines.
Asked to confirm Ekstein’s whereabouts after Chiefs beat Chippa 4-2 on Saturday to set up a cup final against lower tier side TS Galaxy on May 18 in Durban‚ Middendorp was non-plussed. “I haven’t seen him today, too.”
Ekstein’s form has improved immensely since Middendorp’s return to Chiefs in December, and the midfielder underlined it with a superb performance in the club’s 2-0 win against Cape Town City in the quarterfinals of the Nedbank Cup‚ capping the display with a goal.
But having scored only one league goal and produced one assist in 18 league appearances this season‚ perhaps the diminutive midfielder should listen to the advise and stay put and renew his contract with the Naturena outfit. – additional reporting Sazi Hadebe