Chippa chasing survival and silverware
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JOHANNESBURG – Clinton Larsen is adamant that his Chippa United team is not leaving any stone unturned as they are determined to pull out of the Absa Premiership relegation dogfight, while they also go in search of the club’s first piece of silverware courtesy of this year’s Nedbank Cup.
Chippa find themselves in 14th spot on the log standings with 21 points, while tied with relegation/promotion play-offs team Free State Stars. Furthermore, they are just four points clear of relegation threatened Maritzburg United.
However, their league quagmire hasn’t deprived them from churning out their best in South Africa club’s premier knockout competition. As a result, they are through to the last four of the competition - following gallant fights against Mamelodi Sundowns, Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandila and recently Bidvest Wits.
“The fighting spirit of this team is second to none. And that’s why I am confident in the league that this team won’t go down,” Larsen said after their 5-3 win over Bidvest Wits in the lottery of a penalty shoot-out after the game astonishingly ended 4-4 after extra-time.
"If we perform like this, there’ll be more wins that losses. I am very proud of the performance, fighting spirit and the quality of our football.”
And, with only six games left for Chippa to save their top-flight football status and two between them and their first piece of silverware the former Golden Arrows mentor is confident that he’s got enough personnel at his disposal to deliver them to the Promised Land.
“I said it from the beginning, I believe that this team won’t go down and why can’t we try and win this cup? And, that’s exactly what we are doing,” Larsen said. “In every single game, we’ll put our best out there and hope to get a result. We’ve got very good recovery methods. We’ve been in the game long enough to know how to rest players, when to train and push them.
"We’ve got a lot of experienced players, between age 30 and 31, that need good recovery time after matches, and that’s what we what we want to give them.”
Rewind to the first half of the season, the Chilli Boys found the going tough in domestic football, as a result, chairman Siviwe Mpengesi had to show the door to four coaches in that period - Vladislav Heric, Dan Malesela, Eric Tinkler and Joel Masutha.
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Enter Larsen, and there’s been a breath of fresh air at the Port Elizabeth-based club. The players’ confidence has grown and, those who were deemed on the fringes are now integral parts of the team. The former Bloemfontein Celtic mentor doesn’t take all the credit for the team’s resurgence though, as he believes that everyone will be pivotal in steering the team out of the relegation zone.
“I’ve got a way of working and that is to create a very strong friendly environment to enjoy football and training,” Larsen said. “There are also a number of players that I’ve coached in the past, and they know what I demand of them. And that’s rubbed off to everybody else.
It’s not about me as the head coach but goalkeeper coach Brian van der Heever is very knowledgeable and experience. Mbuyiselo Sambu, my assistant, I coached him at Celtic and his developing. I won’t take credit alone.”