Time to step up, says Larsen
CLINTON Larsen is done making excuses; the Bloemfontein Celtic coach now wants to join the list of local coaches who have won titles by ending the club's seven-year drought.
Last month, three coaches - Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax CT), Muhsin Ertugral (Lamontville Golden Arrows) and Roger Sikhakhane (Chippa United) - were fired by their clubs because of poor results.
Larsen is confident he will prove why the Celtic bosses have backed him despite barely making it into the Top 8 last season, starting with the Telkom Knockout quarterfinal clash against defending champions Orlando Pirates on Sunday (3pm).
"I've always said that if we can finish as high as fifth on the (PSL) log, we are one step closer to being in the top three or four and having success in the cup," said Larsen yesterday.
Celtic host the Buccaneers, who are coached by Roger de Sa, at the Free State Stadium, in a match that will see to two South African coaches go head to head.
Only one can continue the cup journey, with the odds stacked against Pirates, who have not beaten Celtic at home since 2008.
When local coaches do get jobs with Premier League teams, they often do not last, and Larsen's case with Phunya Sele Sele is a rarity. He now wants to repay his bosses, who gave him his big break in 2010.
Larsen is not as experienced as his counterparts Gavin Hunt of SuperSport United, De Sa, and new Arrows man Manqoba Mngqithi, the select few homegrown coaches who have won cups with their respective teams.
But he is eager to improve his credentials. "We want to win the cup," Larsen said. "But sometimes going into the new season with a strong team is difficult because we have to live with the fact that our players are being poached from us. The management has made a commitment to tie our key players down to avoid this in future."
They would have had little chance against Pirates away from home. However, they are in their comfort zone at the Free State Stadium, where they have only been beaten once in four games this season.
"Although we are now playing away from Seisa (the preferred home ground that is being renovated), Vodacom Park is still a fortress. And because we beat Pirates there in the league (in September) we have a bit of a mental advantage," Larsen said.
Elswehere, BidVest Wits host unfancied Free Stars Stars at Milpark Stadium in another quarterfinal clash tomorrow. Kickoff is at 8.15pm.
l See TV schedule on Page 40