East London – Clinton Larsen and his assistant managers heaved a huge sigh of relief after Chippa United managed to get an important victory to escape relegation for the second time in a row.
The Port Elizabeth-based side defeated Kaizer Chiefs – who finished outside Top 8 for the second time under Ernst Middendorp – in a very physical and competitive game at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in the afternoon. Rhulani Manzini scored the only goal that made a huge difference for Chilli Boys who finished a very difficult season in the 12th position on the log. Even though Chiefs lost the game that would have kept them in the Top 8 (had they won) – they are the ones who were controlling the game and creating chances. What Chiefs did not do is to convert their chances yesterday.
“It was nerve-racking in the end but when you look at log in the end, even if we had lost – we would have stayed up. We had to do the job not to rely on other teams and permutations but I was very confident of what I saw against Polokwane City last week, I knew the boys would be up for it today. I could see in the eyes, the body language and the performance they gave against Polokwane was to notch, especially defensively. And again today, players wore their hearts on their sleeves and threw bodies on the line. That is what we were asking them. We said to them: our defending today doesn’t have to be pretty, it has to be effective and I think that’s what it was,” said the coach after the game.
The coach was elated by the result and told the media that he urged his players to fight for injured Tebogo Makobela who was badly tackled by Teenage Hadede. “It’s just a pity what happened to Makobela. He has a broken leg and that is sad for a player who has just made that right back berth his own. That was really disappointing for us for that to happen to him. But I said to the players, let’s to it for him. He would be on that field with us fighting tooth and nail. And I think you saw the extra energy the players came up with in the second half. They really upped the game, upped the energy level and I knew once we score first, they are going to be frustrated. I said to the players, if it means getting rough – we’got to. We are fighting for our lives. We were fighting for our lives and we needed to show it in our body language. I am happy that the players did,” concluded Larsen.