STYLE AND SUBSTANCE
Lamontville Golden Arrows coach Clinton Larsen says it’ll take some time for anyone out there to notice what he is trying to implement at the plucky Durban underdogs, but adds he wants to bring back the old style of “Abafana Bes’Thende”, which was so begu
Clinton Larsen took over as coach of Lamontville Golden Arrows in December 2015 when Serame Letsoaka left for Bloemfontein Celtic, a position left vacant by the resignation of the former. Letsoaka had done well in Durban, bringing the fight back into the Golden Arrows team following their promotion back to the Absa Premiership at the end of the 2014/15 campaign. But Larsen has taken things a step further, keeping that steel within the side, but also adding more attacking verve. Arrows is a club that is structured on promoting young players – their modest budget means they are left to sign players who are out of contract from other clubs. It puts their top eight finish at the end of the 2016/17 campaign into perspective, pipping more affluent clubs to the post through the innovative football dished out by Larsen’s side. What Larsen emphasised is that the team, under his watch, will not be relegation candidates and at the end of October, three months into the season, the club were joint top of the table with Kaizer Chiefs. It was that form that earned Larsen the Premier Soccer League’s Coach of the Month prize for August/September. “It’s been a learning curve even for me, just like it has been for the players since I came in a season-anda-half ago,” Larsen tells KICK OFF. “For me as a coach, coming into a new environment, a new setup, learning the way things are done, getting to know the players, it’s been a good learning experience for me and an enjoyable one. “I’d be happy if we had done a lot better because I’m an ambitious coach and I’d also have liked to win trophies, as well as help the team get as high up the league table as possible. “But Rome wasn’t built in a day. We’ll keep trying to sign top players in key positions, keep trying to improve the squad, keep trying to improve the brand that we play. “I think if we keep on doing that, we are moving in the right direction and this team can only get stronger moving forward.” Last season Larsen made history by reaching the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup, a first for Golden Arrows. They were narrowly defeated at home by Orlando Pirates, a club he starred at as a midfielder in his playing days. But Larsen says that given time to work with these youngsters, success is not far away for them. “For me, success is to win trophies
(Main) Larsen guided Arrows to their first top eight finish in eight years.
and that is how you measure yourself as a team and as the coach. That is what I’ll try to do at the club.” “We came very close in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals and we could’ve been in the final with a little bit more luck on our side.” Arrows have always flown their slogan of Abafana Bes’thende at full mast. It propelled them to their greatest heights when, with Mngqithi in charge in 2009, they trounced Ajax Cape Town 6-0 in the MTN8 final at Orlando Stadium, which remains the largest margin of victory in a South African knockout decider. That Arrows side was brimming with stylish players from ekasi, who played football with no fear, and were out to prove themselves. They had a reliable defender in Siyabonga Sangweni, with dribbling wizards Njabulo Manqana, Philani Shange and Thokozani Mshengu.