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09.07.2004 Football News

Middendorp Returns

By SoccerExpress

The Technical Director of Accra Hearts of Oak, Ernst Johannes Middendorp returned to Accra in the early hours of this morning after a one-week medical visit to Germany, which raised eyebrows in media and Hearts circles.

The coach's arrival is expected to buoy an otherwise crestfallen Hearts side, which has a crucial Confederation Cup tie against AS Doaunes of Senegal on Sunday.

The controversial coach is expected to plunge immediately into training today taking over from Messrs Adolf Armah and Ofei Ansah who have been holding fort since the German travelled.

Middendorp left Accra last Thursday morning ostensibly to seek medical help but hours after his trip there was huge speculation in South Africa that he was going to take over as head coach of South Africa's Orlando Pirates.

Matters were further heightened by the heavy corroboration given to the story by South African media.

In spite of strong denials by Ernst's employers, Strategic Outsourcing Solutions, the rumours resurfaced early this week with reports that Middendorp was on the bench when Pirates played a match in Kimberley, South Africa.

Those reports turned out to be untrue as well and his arrival, late as it is would see players, officials and supporters of Hearts heaving heavy sighs of relief.

Middendorp joined Accra Hearts of Oak in February after the Accra side declined to extend the contract of former coach, Herbert Addo.

His four-month stint has so far seen the Phobians come close to qualifying for the money zone of the CAF Champions League. Hearts are currently league leaders in Zone B of the suspended 2004 Premier League after three emphatic wins over Liberty Professionals, Power FC and Heart of Lions.

The coach has not avoided controversy with candid comments about the Hearts establishment

that has sometimes irked the management and many saw his latest trip as a protest against the Hearts management.

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