Cape Town - Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp believes that the FIFA international break could not have come at a worse time for his side.
Chiefs had built up a head of steam prior to the break, winning three of their opening four matches, which propelled them to the top of the Absa Premiership standings.
This run included a 3-2 victory over Highlands Park, a 1-0 win over Black Leopards, a 1-1 draw with SuperSport United and a 2-1 triumph over Cape Town City.
But then came the international break, which took the wind out of the Glamour Boys' sails, as they fell to a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Polokwane City at home on Saturday night after an 18-day break.
"We didn’t really come into the game, I was really surprised by that having had some good training sessions," Middendorp said after the match.
"The break looks like it was longer if you compare it to how we finished against Cape Town City. The coaching position is never confirmed from the team talk during the break, FIFA break or during the MTN8 competition as that will raise concern. We’ve had good flair as the team but having been out for three weeks we tried to train and put things into perspective, but everybody knows that you get momentum through games."
And the Amakhosi mentor says that he warned his team that they could not bank on their good start to the season and that it may take a little while for the players to get their match sharpness back.
"The good stuff is that I face the facts and reality," Middendorp said. "During the week, I had a comfortable talk and discussion, where I told the team that following the four-game winning streak, let’s not believe that since we’ve played four games we are out of ICU. That was also the tone of the chairman in June."
The German tactician did, however, have some positives to take from the loss, singling out youngster Reeve Frosler for special praise, who has made the right-back position his own in the absence of the injured Ramahlwe Mphahlele.
"I'm very happy about the development of Reeve Frosler, especially having come out of nine months where he was sitting on the side," Middendorp said.
"He is a national team player. He goes to the national team and comes back. It's normal that we have to be realistic and think that at the start we’ll make the progress. There’ll be certain ups and downs, and that’s normal when you are building a certain dynamic with the team."
Chiefs will be hoping to return to winning ways when they clash with AmaZulu on Heritage Day, next Tuesday.