Ernst Middendorp. Picture: LEE WARREN / GALLO IMAGES
Ernst Middendorp. Picture: LEE WARREN / GALLO IMAGES

Orlando Pirates assistant coach Fadlu Davids has said the two Germans taking charge of Saturday’s Soweto derby at FNB Stadium are from the same football school but “completely different in personality”.

Davids can bring unique insight into Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp and his new Pirates countryman and counterpart Josef Zinnbauer ahead of the Soweto giants’ Premiership meeting this weekend (kickoff 3.30pm).

Apart from having worked with Zinnbauer since the former Karlsruher SC coach’s arrival on December 10‚ and his subsequent remarkable unbeaten streak of seven league victories and a draw‚ Middendorp was Davids’s earliest coaching mentor.

Middendorp brought his ex-striker at Maritzburg United into top-flight coaching as the German’s assistant at Bloemfontein Celtic and Maritzburg. Davids subsequently became head coach of United‚ before being poached by Pirates.

“I think in terms of football school‚ they both come out of the same German school where a lot is focused on verticality and counterattacks‚” Davids said when asked to compare Zinnbauer and Middendorp.

“So the football thinking and approach are quite similar. Of course Ernst has changed over the years since I played under him and then started to work with him. He’s always kept up with the latest trends.

“Personality-wise, each one with a strong will‚ with a strong organisation skills set — what Germans are born with,” said Davids. 

“But both with a strong will to win everything — from an exercise in a training session to everything they do. If they are playing a card game they want to win.

“But you cannot compare the two. Both good coaches. But completely different. 

“When it comes to football sense, they both have their [Uefa] pro licences out of the same football school in Germany.

“But they are completely different in terms of personality‚ in terms of how they approach things‚ how they set up their training sessions.

“But both want the same outcome‚ which is of course to win a football match. That’s where you cannot set them apart; they both have that desire to win.”

Middendorp has steered Chiefs to the top of the PSL log. They finished ninth on the log last season.

In the past fortnight some of the pressure of Chiefs trying to reverse four seasons without a trophy in their 50th anniversary year has appeared to show‚ and their lead has been cut from nine to four points.

They need a win against Pirates to maintain a four-point buffer over second-placed defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

A win for Bucs can reduce the gap to three points‚ but they have played one more game than Chiefs. A win would also establish Bucs as title contenders despite them floundering in the first half of the season.