Battle of the coaches

2013-11-01 00:00

IT will be a battle of the coaches on Sunday when Maritzburg United head to the Free State capital to take on Bloemfontein Celtic in a Premiership encounter.

Team of Choice coach Clinton Larsen will go up against his former side for the first time when he meets Ernst Middendorp’s Celtic at the Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium.

Both coaches have had a decent start at their new clubs, with United claiming their first under Larsen with a win in the KZN derby against AmaZulu over the past weekend while Celtic remain undefeated under the German Middendorp.

Larsen has transformed United in the short time he’s been with the club. In their last two games, they’ve held on to the ball longer and created more chances as they have played an attacking brand of football.

The coach has also brought in youngsters Thabang Matuka and Frank Sarfo-Gyamfi, who have started both games under the former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates midfielder. Maritzburg College pupil Bandile Shandu has also seen some game time, which has been proof of the coach’s statement to The Witness earlier in his reign that he was not afraid to play youngsters.

He has also tipped the 19-year-old Sarfo-Gyamfi and 18-year-old matric pupil Shandu to be future stars.

A revelation under Larsen has been the understanding between midfielder Ryan de Jongh and striker Thokozani Sekotlong.

Sekotlong was the architect of the first goal and netted the second with a sublime strike following a brilliant pass by De Jongh.

United’s back four have also been solid, and they were unlucky to go down to SuperSport United following a late mistake.

Larsen’s team find themselves in sixth place, three points ahead of Celtic in 11th, and, with form on their side have a chance to move further up the log as they chase their first ever top eight finish.

Maritzburg United are a different team under Larsen than they were when Middendorp was in charge. But they will not be unknown to the man who brought most of the players to the club.

Under the German, they played a defensive game, but they were capable of attacking football as was seen in the first half of their 2-0 home win against Mpumalanga Black Aces earlier on in the season.

Although Celtic remain undefeated in their two games under the German, they have yet to claim the three points as they have drawn both of their games. That means Larsen goes into the game with a slightly better record of one loss and one win.

However, the United coach said earlier this week that the coming encounter was “not about Larsen and Middendorp”, and said that there would be no loyalties to his old club as his main job on the day is to make sure the Team of Choice leave Bloemfontein with the three points, and an improved league position.

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