“If you don’t replace quality with quality, you’re bound to get hurt and that’s exactly what happened to Free State Stars,” former coach Luc Eymael says.
The former coach’s remarks come after Stars found themselves heading back to National First Division (NFD) last week after losing to champions Mamelodi Sundowns at Goble Park, Bethlehem.
While Eymael remarks might come as a shocker to many, this might not be the case with Stars management headed by father and son, Mike and Rantsi Mokoena.
The two players that Eymael is referring to are Siphelele Mthembu and Nhlanhla Vilakazi.
But this comes as no surprise. This has been the club’s tendencies. During his tenure as Stars coach, Golden Arrows coach Steve Komphela was subjected to the same scenario where quality players would be sold to either Mamelodi Sundowns, Orlando Pirates or Kaizer Chiefs without being replaced.
Never shy to speak his mind, the Belgian tactician said, “I’m so sad for Free State Stars, for the boys, for the fantastic fans and some members of the board for being relegated to the NFD.”
Talking to social media, Eymael wrote, “It feels sad because if you think 12 months ago we were winning two trophies. We won a second trophy in September. So it’s very, very sad for the boys. I want to say that I am sorry for them and I hope that they will bounce back.”
Eymael, who was with the team during pre-season, says it was always going to be difficult for the Bethlehem side to match last season’s performances as the team failed to replace the likes of Siphelele Mthembu and Nhlanhla Vilakazi.
Responding to questions why he was only raising the issue now, Eymael wrote, “It’s not correct to say am only raising these issues now. When I was still a coach at Stars, I raised these issues with my bosses. I was upfront about the challenge this will pose in the long run. I’m not only saying this now.”
The former coach said while some of the players pulled up their socks in trying to get the team back in order, it was never enough.
“Three of four players cannot carry the entire team on its back. You needed others to come in and play their role but this was never the case, especially when you look at the players that were brought to the club. It just wasn’t enough,” he noted.
“The basic principle in football is that you sell you buy, you can’t keep selling quality and not replace it with quality. It does work that way. It has never worked that way and it will never work that way,” the Belgian mentor added.
Stars CEO Rantsi Mokoena did not respond to questions, including text messages, on the above matter.