Larsen ready to plot Pirates’ downfall

2013-11-26 00:00

WITH Maritzburg United having lost two games in a row, and winless in three, coach Clinton Larsen felt the visit of Caf Champions League runners up Orlando Pirates came at the perfect time for his club.

The Team of Choice tackle the mighty Buccaneers at Harry Gwala Stadium tomorrow and three points would be like gold to United, whose 2-1 defeat against Golden Arrows on Sunday means they are now just two points ahead of the struggling Durban club who sit in 14th spot.

Pirates may be bottom of the log, but that is because they have played just three league games this season in which the quest for a second star was their main priority.

“When it comes to playing against teams like Chiefs and Pirates, those are the games you need to lift the confidence of your players,” Larsen told The Witness yesterday.

The Soweto club are not short of class, with quality players all over the park. Midfielder Andile Jali is currently the man of the moment, having played Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso off the park and into his pocket when Bafana Bafana beat world and European champions Spain at FNB Stadium last week.

But Larsen was aware that they could not focus all of their energy on closing down one player against a side like Pirates. “They have too much quality to focus on one player. You close Jali down and you open up space for [Oupa] Manyisa, [Thandani] Ntshumayelo or [Kermit] Erasmus. We will work to close them down as a unit instead of worrying about individuals,” he said.

Speaking about Sunday’s defeat to KZN rivals Golden Arrows, Larsen said the team’s performance on the day just wasn’t good enough.

“We created a few half chances that we didn’t convert. [Thokozani] Seko-tlong had about two, and Thamsanqa Mkhize also had one he headed over.

“With the score still 0-0, we had a great chance to score through Frank [Sarfo-Gyamfi] and we didn’t convert it.

The coach opted to leave strikers Ayanda Nkosi and Terrance Mandaza on the bench, and started with Sekotlong up front with Mkhize just behind him. Ghanaian Mohammed Yakubu was left out completely, and Larsen said that was a tactical decision.

“We had Mandaza on the bench, and he and Yakubu are very similar with Ayanda offering something different,” he said.

The 21-year-old Nkosi, who scored with his first touch on his PSL debut two months ago when United beat Mpumalanga Black Aces at Harry Gwala, found the back of the net — with his first touch again — just two minutes after coming on as a substitute as they tried to stage a comeback, and could even be named to start tomorrow against the mighty Bucs.

But having lost two on the trot, and being winless in three games, did Larsen feel confident that they can claim the three points against a star-studded Orlando Pirates full of confidence?

“We have a good record against Orlando Pirates, and even at Celtic, I plotted their downfall a number of times,” said Larsen.

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