Kaizer Chiefs returnee Lorenzo Gordinho will be up for selection in Amakhosi’s epic clash with Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.
“He definitely will be in the squad,” assured Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp ahead of the Absa Premiership fixture at FNB Stadium.
The 24-year-old has been training with the team since last Saturday, a few days after he completed his year-long loan spell at Bloemfontein Celtic.
“He is in a top set. That gives me a clear indication that he is prepared,” enthused Middendorp, who replaced Giovanni Solinas as Chiefs’ coach last month. A plus for Godinho, added Middendorp, is that the Benoni, Ekurhuleni-born player is familiar with the Amakhosi set up despite being away from Naturena for a while.
“He knows everybody here and that makes it easy for him and for all of us,” said the German tactician.
Gordinho, who raked up 14 appearances in all competitions for Celtic, returns to Amakhosi where no player has claimed a firm place in a defence that has been rocked by injuries. Full-back Ramahlwe Mphahlele has just recovered from a knee injury, while central defender Eric Mathoho is still out with an ankle injury. Mathoho was seen walking with the aid of crutches at the club’s headquarters this week, his foot fully strapped in plaster. He was injured in Chiefs’ CAF Confederation Cup game against Zimamoto FC in Zanzibar last month.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune is out with a shoulder injury, but the club is yet to pronounce the extent of the injury after Amakhosi confirmed their number one went to see a specialist on Thursday. Reserve keeper Virgil Vries is expected to be handed the gloves again, after the 27-year-old kept goal in Chiefs’ last league match and Middendorp’s first in charge - a 1-0 win over SuperSport United last month. Vries also kept goal in the first leg of Amakhosi’s Confed Cup encounter against Elgeco Plus of Madagascar in Durban on December 15.
Middendorp, meanwhile, refused to say whether the game against Sundowns would be his biggest test yet.
“That’s not my approach - my approach is day in day out to design the training programme to be well prepared with ideas of how we should approach the game. It doesn’t matter [whether] it’s against Sundowns, AmaZulu and Bidvest [Wits] in between.
“It’s all about our own idea and being flexible,” he responded to a City Press question during Chiefs’ media day event on Thursday.
Kaizer Chiefs vs Mamelodi Sundowns (FNB Stadium, 3.30pm)
Polokwane City vs AmaZulu (Peter Mokaba Stadium, 3.30pm)
Free State Stars vs Bidvest Wits (Goble Park, 6pm)
Highlands Park vs Orlando Pirates (Makhulong Stadium, 8.15pm)
SuperSport United vs Cape Town City (Lucas Moripe Stadium, 8.15pm)
Golden Arrows vs Maritzburg United (Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium, 3.30pm)
Baroka FC vs Black Leopards (Peter Mokaba Stadium, 3.30pm)