Ernst Middendorp ponders his line-up for Nedbank Cup tie as injured return
High-profile injury returnees Khama Billiat and Itumeleng Khune‚ as well as new signing Anthony Akumu‚ will be in the squad for Kaizer Chiefs’ Nedbank Cup last-32 match against Royal Eagles on Saturday‚ Amakhosi coach Ernst Middendorp said.
Middendorp said he cannot guarantee that any of the three will play against the GladAfrica Championship team from Durban‚ emphasising that sometimes players have to “wait for their opportunity”.
With Premiership leaders Chiefs out of action since they beat Golden Arrows 1-0 away on January 25‚ the coach said he will field the core of his first team to give them much-needed rhythm and game time.
Playmaker Billiat returned to training eight days ago‚ Middendorp said‚ after an extended period out in which he was rested after having played too many matches‚ including for Zimbabwe.
He last played against Maritzburg United on December 22 when he was substituted.
Bafana Bafana No 1 Khune made a brief, unsuccessful two-match return for Chiefs in September from the shoulder injury that kept him out of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in June and July.
He has been kept on the bench by in-form Nigeria international Daniel Akpeyi since a return to fitness in January.
Akumu‚ signed from Zambia’s Zesco United recently‚ is yet to play, and an outing against Eagles‚ the bottom team in the First Division‚ would seem an opportunity to hand the Kenyan midfielder a debut‚ probably off the bench.
Middendorp said he intends to have a near full-strength team out on Saturday.
“It will be the core of the players we have used in the PSL. We had no competitive game last week‚” the coach said.
Middendorp said Chief have no injuries‚ with just a “small question mark” over defender Kgotso Moleko with a tight muscle.