Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/MICHAEL SHEEHAN
Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/MICHAEL SHEEHAN

Coach Ernst Middendorp admits that Kaizer Chiefs’ Premiership Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates on Saturday has ramped up in importance after his team’s Nedbank Cup defeat by Highlands Park.

Chiefs were beaten 5-4 on penalties after normal and extra-time ended 1-1 at Makhulong Stadium on Saturday.

After their last-16 cup defeat‚ Chiefs next meet Pirates in a league game at FNB Stadium. Amakhosi now have only the Premiership title to play for.

Chiefs are desperate for silverware in their 50th anniversary season. On top of that‚ they need to send a message to opponents that cracks are not starting to show after a fortnight in which their PSL lead was cut from nine to four points and they were booted out of the season’s last cup competition.

“The next game is Saturday and we need to be concentrated  on that‚” Middendorp said. “We know it’s a game with a high attendance‚ and of course there’s a huge result at stake.

“It’s always something where we are disappointed [about the Nedbank defeat]‚ there’s no doubt about it.”

The cup game on an uneven Makhulong surface‚ against a physical‚ spoiling Highlands‚ was made more difficult by a second-half downpour.

Chiefs have a four-point lead over defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the PSL‚ and six over third-placed Pirates.