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Chiefs coach defends Billiat

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has defended the two players that failed to convert in the penalty shoot-out that led to their early Nedbank Cup exit.

Warriors and Kaizer Chiefs striker Khama Billiat
Warriors and Kaizer Chiefs striker Khama Billiat

Chiefs’ met the end of the road in their 2019/20 Nedbank Cup campaign after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium on Saturday evening.

Amakhosi managed to sneak into extra-time, thanks to an own-goal from Sello Motsepe, but ultimately failed to match the Lions of the North in sudden-death as George Maluleka and Khama Billiat failed to convert their spot-kicks.

Middendorp argued that both players are usually guaranteed to convert from 12 yards out, but conceded that this is the nature of a shoot-out and therefore fingers cannot be pointed at them.

“It’s always something where we are disappointed, there’s no doubt about it, but as I said, under the circumstances, there’s not really a game that we could see normally from our side,” said Middendorp.

“The penalties are always something in the end that (is unpredictable). In particular, the two players who missed on our side — George and Khama — are normally 100 percent (guaranteed to score).

“Every time in training or whenever, regularly, they score. But this is what happens in the end, and it’s not to comment on. It’s a penalty shoot-out and Highlands Park qualified (for the next round). As for us, we win together, and we’re not qualified together.”

Middendorp believes the pitch at Makhulong Stadium restricted their passing game against Highlands Park.

“Ja, so a penalty shoot-out in the end not qualify us is a little bit of a situation where probably the team lacked a little bit more luck in the end, (a team) a bit more tougher made it,” Middendorp told SuperSport TV.

“It was very difficult regarding the field, this passing, a lot of possession moments where we missed the ball too long or the ball not getting into the direction of our players.

“It’s really not to stand here and look for excuses but I think everyone who was part of this afternoon knows it was a little bit of up and down and good, unfortunately we have not made it, we have to compliment the opponent, congratulations to Highlands Park.” — Kick-Off.