Coach Larsen confident Chippa can achieve ‘great escape’ against Kaizer Chiefs to avoid relegation from PSL
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 Premier Soccer League fixture for the season on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium at 3pm.
The 48-year-old coach, who enjoyed mostly top-eight success during his time at Bloemfontein Celtic and Golden Arrow, is faced with the difficult task of saving Chippa from being relegated this season.
Larsen joined Chippa United at the beginning of the year.
The coach says he knew immediately after his arrival that taking over the coaching reins of a team who were second from the bottom would not be an easy task.
From the 16 league and cup matches he has managed so far, the coach has notched up seven wins, three draws and six defeats.
Besides the big elephant in the room, he is confident 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 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 take a team second from the bottom of the log.
“My six years at Celtic were six years of top-eight football. In my my three years at Golden Arrows, two years in succession were [also] top eight.
“The one season was a ninth position, but I had joined the team halfway through the PSL season.
“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 defensive mistakes had cost his team dearly in their 4-2 loss to the selfsame Chiefs in the Nebdank Cup semifinal.
However, the coach said they had learnt their lesson and the players had been training around the clock trying to master their defensive plan.
“We were conceding very soft goals.
“We conceded four goals and three of them we gave Chiefs, except for Khama Billiat’s wonder strike from around 30 metres.
“All other three 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,” he said.
“They [Chiefs] 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, because it is our home game.
“I think we did that in our last game – we went into the lead, but we made errors on defence and it cost us the match,” he said.
Larsen will be happy to welcome back defender Frederic Nsabiyumva from injury and Boikanye Komane from suspension.