Make or break time for Chippa United
Chippa United are staring down the barrel of relegation but coach Clinton Larsen is keeping the faith.
Despite one of their better first halves of the season, according to Larsen, in the game against Cape Town City on Friday night, a slew of missed opportunities and soft defensive mistakes condemned the hosts to a third defeat in five league games.
Their latest defeat, 2-0 against The Citizens, came after two late goals from substitutes Shane Roberts and Gift Links as City moved up to third position on the log.
“I thought the first half was one of our better first halves this season, similar to the way we played against [Black] Leopards, and we lost that too.
“We really dominated a very strong Cape Town City team.
“I said to the players at halftime I have never seen a performance in which a team has so easily broken down this CTC defence and got behind them so many times, which is a testament to the football we played tonight,” Larsen said.
He said it was now time for his side to face the strong possibility of a relegation playoff.
“As much as I am an optimist, I am also a realist. The playoffs could be a strong possibility for us and we have to make sure that if we don’t want to go that route we have to beat Polokwane [City].
“Outside of beating Polokwane, not even a draw is going to be good enough against Polokwane.
“We need three points to stave off going to the playoffs,” Larsen said.
The Chilli Boys are in 15th position on the log with 24 points.
“The boys always bounce back. They will be down for the next day or two but we have our ways of lifting them up and getting them back on board, so I don’t foresee any major hassle in motivating them for the next game.
“For me it’s about making sure we get the job done.
“I think we want to do it the hard way. It’s a very dangerous way to try to do it but we have to keep grinding on the way we have.
“The ball has not rolled for us – it never does when you’re down there.
“So we have to hope we convert the chances we create,” Larsen said.
The coach is of the belief that four points will be enough to secure his side’s safety but admitted other teams’ results would have to go their way.
“There is a strong possibility this could go down to the wire.
“If we look at the team below us, Maritzburg [United], they are four points behind and if they don’t win their next game the best they could do is a playoff place, but that means winning their last two games.
United travel to Polokwane on Saturday for the must-win match before hosting Chiefs in their final clash.