JOHANNESBURG – Golden Arrows coach Clinton Larsen says unlike other top-flight teams that have open cheque books to sign new players, their main source of strengthening the team is through the promotion of development players - even if it is at the expense of losing key matches along the way.
Larsen came under fire for giving Multichoice Diski Challenge (MDC) discovery Siboniso Conco a starting berth in their 2-0 MTN8 quarter-final loss to Mamelodi Sundowns last weekend. But what many naysayers might have forgotten is the impressive senior team debut Siphamandla Sabelo gave in the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) derby against Maritzburg United in their season opener where they won 2-0 after the final whistle.
“We have strengthened quite substantially. I said in the beginning of the season that with our Diski players that is where Golden Arrows strengthens,” Larsen said.
“Unfortunately we don’t have a cheque book as we are not a buying team. The youngsters that come in are getting better with each game that they play. But yes, it is at the expense of losing, but there is a bigger picture at the club.”
Arrows’ MDC team has been a breeding ground for the senior side and has produced players such as Nduduzo Sibaya, who went on to help them eliminate Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals last year and went on to win the Most Promising Player of the Tournament. Another Diski graduate Siphelele Magubane won the Awesome Goal of the Season last term for his superb curler in March against Polokwane City, as voted for by the public.
“We are trying to achieve the development of these players at a quicker rate,” Larsen explained.
“In two, three seasons, we want to have a very strong young team as that has been the vision of our chairlady (Mato Madlala). And I am in total support of that vision, that is why I am not afraid of playing the young boys and I’ll continue to do so.”
The 47-year-old coach is realistic that playing with youngsters doesn’t help much in terms of getting the momentum that’s required for challenging for silverware. Hence, it’s always important to keep their target as basic as possible.
“Our priority is doing well in the league and securing our status firstly,’’ he insisted.
“We are a small team, so we are not going to fool ourselves and think that we're bigger than what we are. We are trying to achieve firstly the 30-point mark, then the 40-point mark and then take it from there. So that’s how we work season after season and we are not going to change.’’
Larsen and his troops will hope to get back to winning ways in the Absa Premiership on Saturday when they travel to Cape Town Stadium to face Cape Town City, who are shigh on confidence after beating Maritzburg United in the MTN8 quarter-finals last Sunday.