Larsen keeps the faith
Manager confident Chippa United can dodge the dreaded relegation axe
Chippa United coach Clinton Larsen is fighting the first relegation battle of his career and he is confident of winning it.
The Chilli Boys are planning a great escape when they host Kaizer Chiefs in their last league fixture for the season, on Saturday, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (3pm).
The 48-year-old coach, who enjoyed mostly top eight success during his time at Bloemfontein Celtic and Golden Arrows, is now faced with a difficult task of saving the Chilli Boys from relegation this season.
Larsen joined the Port Elizabeth-based professional soccer side at the beginning of the year.
The coach says he knew straight away that taking on a team second from the bottom of the log would not be an easy task.
From the 16 league and cup matches he has managed so far, the coach has seen seven wins, three draws and suffered six defeats.
Besides the big elephant in the room, he remains upbeat that Chippa will live to see another season in top flight soccer.
“I only had 13 games here at Chippa, because I got here after 17 games had already been played,” Larsen said.
“The team had accumulated 12 points and had four [previous] coaches, so we have already surpassed that total of points in less than the number of games that it took them.
“I knew it was going to be a challenge and that is why I accepted this job. I have never been in this situation before where I have been asked to save a team second from the bottom.
“This is something new to me in terms of fighting a relegation battle, but it’s one that I have enjoyed.
“I am confident in my abilities and I am also confident in the ability of my players. For me that alone has made us stronger during this period.”
Larsen said it was defensive mistakes that had cost his team dearly during their 4-2 loss to Chiefs in the Nedbank Cup semifinal.
However, the coach said they had learnt their lesson and the players have been training around the clock trying to master their defensive plan.
“We were conceding very soft goals. We conceded four goals, three of them we gave Chiefs, except for Khama Billiat’s wonder strike from 30 metres.
“All three other goals were given to them on a silver platter. If we can minimise those defensive and individual errors then we are in with an even chance against a team that is also struggling,” he said.
“They have not won in six or seven games, so there is nothing for us to fear apart from their reputation.
“We enjoy these types of games where we come up against teams that have big reputations because we all know reputations count for nothing.
“We have to make sure that we impose ourselves on Chiefs I think we did that in our last game and we went into the lead but faulted defensively.”
Larsen will be happy to welcome back defender Frederic Nsabiyumva from injury and Boilanye Komane from suspension...