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Mokwena Says Middendorp Is One Of The Most Tactically Astute Coaches

Ahead of Wednesday’s DStv Premiership game against Maritzburg United, Mamelodi Sundowns Co-Head Coach Rulani Mokwena warns that Ernst Middendorp is one of the league most’s unpredictable and tactically astute coaches.

The league leaders take on the Team of Choice at Loftus Stadium tomorrow afternoon, and will be looking to increase their lead at the top of the table.

But Mokwena warns it won’t be an easy game, against a team that held them to a draw in Pietermaritzburg in their first encounter in the league in December.

Maritzburg who spent a long part of the season at the bottom of the table, have steadily climbed out of the bottom places, and are currently 12th on the log.

“Ja, I think what’s important when you profile Maritzburg is first you have to know the unpredictabilityof the team, particularly because of the coach’s profile,” Mokwena told the club’s media department.

“Ernst Middendorp is one coach that is extremely unpredictable and prepares for every opponent with astuteness, and attention to detail. And even with whatever happens at the beginning of the match, there is a clear understanding that there could be structural changes, formational changes, or even positional changes coming into the second half.”

“So that is always the basis of our analysis, when we have to prepare for a team that that coach Middendorp has, because he is probably one of the most tactically versatile coaches in the league. And obviously, that becomes the starting point for the analysis.”

“The second very important thing is when you analyze them, you then go into the data, because even with positional or structural or formational changes, there’s still very key patterns that take place.

“And particularly with their schemes, there’s a clear way of trying to press from the top. And we saw that against Swallows, we saw that against Pirates, with Hlongwane, Ali Meza, of course now is injured, but Meza was very important for them against Pirates. And then the influence of Kutumela playing as a second striker to try to create a two men high pressing structure that is supported by the ball side winger.”

“And then the scheme of the build up, which is very clear that in certain moments, they want to build, but in certain moments, they want to overload and then play to the underloaded side. And they’ve done that very, very well, because they’ve got different ways of coming out from the back and Engelhardt is very important for that. And he gives very important clues for them to be able to read, whether the midfielders should come a little bit closer to link the build up, or to step up a little bit higher to win second balls, particularly from the left hand side. So we have to be very careful of that overload.”