Chiefs are facing a goalkeeping headache with Khune out injured. Vries has been the club’s No.1 since then, but will he make them forget the skipper?
Kaizer Chiefs are 180 minutes away from reaching the group stages of the Caf Confederation Cup.
Standing in front of them is Zesco United of Zambia whose record in Caf competitions is well-documented, and Chiefs will have to bring their A-game in both games.
For Amakhosi though, this two-legged affair will be difficult given that several of their international players are out injured.
Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Erick Mathoho are among the players out until later this year.
While the loss of the two defenders can be felt, it is Itumeleng Khune’s absence which could be felt the most by the Soweto giants as they aim to become the first generation of players to make it into the group stages.
Khune was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury, bringing concerns as to whether or not Chiefs would be able to cope without their influential skipper.
This is a crucial stage of the competition where the character of the players will be severely tested, especially after some top players were signed during the off-season.
Chiefs have proven to be very shaky at the back this season even with Khune present, but without him, they have not been too impressive defensively.
As things stand, Amakhosi have Virgil Vries whose costly mistake against Mamelodi Sundowns saw fans turn against him.
Vries’ signing was met by criticism among the Chiefs fans at the start of the campaign, but he hasn’t been too bad at all in between the sticks.
He has an opportunity to prove his worth and silence those critics by helping Chiefs win as many matches as possible.
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Chiefs know that they can rely on Vries until May, but he will need the support of his teammates to be able to come good and win the hearts of the club fans again.
Vries has international experience which could come in handy in the upcoming two games of the competition and going forward should Chiefs beat Zesco United and qualify for the group stages.
It is for this reason Middendorp should keep faith in Vries and give him the necessary support if they are to forget about Khune, and turn this campaign into a successful one after a false start which saw the club change its technical team.