Larsen, Middendorp prepare for reunion weekend

The revised Absa Premiership schedule this coming weekend will offer the coaches of both Bloemfontein Celtic and Maritzburg United a sooner than expected reunion with their former clubs, just weeks after switching roles.

Ernst Middendorp and Clinton Larsen both started the month in vastly different settings, the former in Pietermaritzburg and the latter in the Free State capital, but within a matter of days it was a completely altered environment.

German Middendorp resigned from his post as coach of the Team of Choice on October 10, while three days earlier it was Larsen that walked away from Celtic by announcing he was quitting.

The new Siwelele boss, who has signed a three-year deal, is now at his fourth different Premier Soccer League club after previous spells at Kaizer Chiefs, Lamontville Golden Arrows and United.

He faces a tough act to follow after Larsen left a strong imprint in his three years at the helm when he won the 2012 Telkom Knockout and thrice ended in the top eight.

They have started steadily under Middendorp, drawing their opening two league fixtures, 2-2 at home to Moroka Swallows and a 1-1 draw away at leaders SuperSport United.

"They've got two very good results, two draws against two good teams, so they're going to feel it's just a matter of time before they turn the corner and start winning games," Larsen said ahead of the game at the Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium on Sunday. "But we don’t want it to be at our expense."

The United coach, who lost his opening game to 1-0 to Matsatsantsa at home but beat AmaZulu 2-0 away in a local derby, has already stated his ambitions of taking his new club into the top eight this year.

Under the guidance of Middendorp, Maritzburg came close to that dream when they ended one point outside the top half of the table last year, while his other two seasons at the helm saw them twice finish 11th.

"We do feel that we are a top eight team and it's something I'm starting to get the players to believe," Larsen says. "They're now starting to play that way and the only way to prove it is to go away against difficult teams like Celtic and get good results.

"It's something that can get the players to believe even more that this is a season where we do against all odds finish right up the table."

Larsen, who said it was time to "give someone else an opportunity to help the club grow" when he left Celtic, is embarking on just his second head coach role.

Middendorp, meanwhile, this week refused to be drawn into any discussions about the game and still appeared to be distracted by his departure from KwaZulu-Natal.

The German cited a "desire to seek new challenges in his career" when he resigned, and three weeks on, insisted he was treated unfairly by United and in particular, his former boss Farook Kadodia.

Asked about the clash by, he bluntly stated: "I don’t want to talk about it. Mr. Kadodia knows best."

Siwelele have not beaten the Team of Choice in the Premiership in any of the last five meetings, with their last win dating back to 2010.