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Clinton Larsen: 'Arrows don’t get credit for showing the bravery to blood so many youngsters'

By Nick Said | 2017-05-19 14:15:46.0

Lamontville Golden Arrows coach Clinton Larsen believes his side’s solid season can be traced back to their win in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge in the 2015/16 campaign.

The MDC has received an overwhelmingly positive reception from PSL clubs since its launch in 2014 for its value in identifying young players ready for their senior teams.

Larsen said that the reserve league has helped to instill a winning culture and confidence in his young players.

Arrows have reached the Nedbank Cup semifinals for the first time in their history‚ and host Orlando Pirates at the Princess Magogo Stadium on Sunday.

They are also in with a chance of a first top eight place since the 2008-09 season under Manqoba Mngqithi.

The following season Arrows when lifted their only previous top-flight trophy in the MTN8 with a famous 6-0 final thrashing of Ajax Cape Town.

To achieve their top eight goal this season Arrows must beat Pirates‚ who they also meet in their final league game‚ on May 27 and hope Ajax get no more than a point at home to Baroka FC.

But even if that does not happen‚ it has still been a good campaign for the side who were promoted back to the PSL at the start of last season. This season they have looked more competitive and blooded a number of new stars for the first team through the MDC.

“What we did towards the end of last season with seven games to go‚ was we used seven or eight of the Diski players in those games in preparation for the following campaign‚” Larsen said.

“We are not a buying club‚ so it was our plan all along to blood them towards the end of the season and hopefully in preseason they kick on.

“Our plan worked perfectly‚ (Nkosi) Gumede came through in goals‚ so did (Nduduzo) Sibiya‚ who has been a revelation this season.

“And then there is our young fullback (Romario) Dlamini‚ he’s 20 years old and had never played in the Premier League before‚ let alone the second or third divisions. He is from the Castle League (SAB Regional League) and he has held his own.

“It has worked wonders for us and I think our club don’t get enough credit for showing the bravery that we have to blood and throw so many youngsters in at this level.

“We have a very small squad‚ we basically have 33 players and that includes our Diski squad‚ so 17 of our 33 players are under the age of 23.

“We all train together. I think we are the only team in the league where the Diski and first team train together.

“But it has worked for us‚ because when we are ready to give these youngsters a chance‚ they are in tune with what we are doing because they train with us all the time.

“When I lose games I will probably lose my job‚ but I am brave enough to take that chance. I am pro youth and pro giving youngsters an opportunity and I will continue to do so.”

One feature of Golden Arrows’ play this season has been an improvement in the entertainment value offered up by the club‚ who have tried to be a little more expansive in the way they have played.

“We haven’t always played this way‚ it’s been a struggle to get the team to get to where they are right now‚” Larsen says.

“We have had a lot of trials this season‚ a lot of injuries and suspensions‚ and it has disrupted our starting XI on numerous occasions‚ and when you don’t have that consistency‚ it is difficult.”


- TMG Digital/TMG Sport