Seasoned coach Larsen hoping lightning strikes twice
PRETORIA - In a classical case of case of deja vu, Clinton Larsen finds himself going into the first round proper of the Nedbank Cup in charge of a team propping up the PSL standings.
It is for this reason that the well-travelled coach is hoping that he experiences the proverbial case of lightning striking twice at the same place.
Last season while coaching Chippa United, the Durbanite who has led the technical teams of no less than five top-flight teams began the campaign of South Africa’s premier club knockout competition bottom of the table.
Larsen took the Chilli Boys all the way to the semi-finals and that brilliant run contributed towards Chippa surviving relegation. He is currently in charge of Polokwane City who are last on the league table and tonight they open their Nedbank Cup campaign against neighbours Baroka FC.
“I found myself in a similar situation last season and I am hoping that the Cup will once again serve as a springboard with the nine games left in the league,” Larsen said.
“It is a big game, a derby and a nice reprieve from the pressures of the league. But there are no easy games in the Nedbank Cup. The upsets that have already happened shows that it is a real David versus Goliath competition. We are definitely the underdogs and we will use that to our advantage.”
At Chippa he was ridiculed by some for daring to compete in the Cup competition when their league position was precarious, but his way worked and he has no intentions of focusing merely on survival.
“People were saying to us last season, why play the same players when you can just focus on avoiding relegation. But we used the Cup to gain momentum and it really gave us confidence in the league. So even here, we are going to stick with the same team for the Cup and the league,” Larsen said.
Intriguingly, Polokwane City’s opposition are also not safe from the chop in 13th place and Larsen’s adversary at Baroka - Dylan Kerr - subscribes to the same philosophy that a good Cup run will be key to fuelling their survival ambitions.
It all makes for a fascinating derby that should see no quarter being given or asked.
“We want to be in the hat for the last-16 draw. For us this is just as important as whether we finish 14th, 13th or 12th. We know it is going to be tough because Polokwane are still hurting from the loss (Baroka beat their neighbours in the league earlier this season). We just hope that we have the passion and the luck on our side.
This is a big Cup with R7million prize money. So there are seven million reasons for both teams to want to go to the next round,” Kerr said.