Johannesburg - “We didn’t suddenly become Real Madrid after winning the cup, we are still Free State Stars.”
This was Stars’ coach Luc Eymael’s declaration after his team’s slump four months after they capped their stellar season with the Nedbank Cup triumph.
The Belgian argued that Stars’ inconsistencies in the new season did not show the full picture.
Eymael backed this up with some statistics that put Ea Lla Koto ahead of the rest of the Absa Premiership teams.
Stars command better shots on target, he said. And they boast a higher percentage on the total number of shots taken closer to goal, according to the stats Eymael shared this week.
“It’s crazy to collect only four points with these stats,” he said.
Stars – who finished sixth last season – have won one in five official matches in all competitions so far in this campaign.
“We didn’t start well even last season,” Eymael pointed out, recalling that Stars had picked up only one point in four matches in a corresponding run in the past campaign.
The maverick mentor bemoaned his side’s frailties at the back in their struggles, yet he refused to be critical of his players.
The 14th-placed Stars have let in eight goals in four league outings, making the Bethlehem-based side the team with the worst defence.
They lost 3-0 to struggling Kaizer Chiefs in the MTN8 quarterfinals.
“It’s not that we’ve been outplayed but we concede too much. Some of the goals we conceded were pure human error from my players. Everyone makes mistakes. It was only in the match against Chiefs where we were not in the game,” said the coach.
Eymael said it was better to experience early struggles because “if you start strong, you’ll drop”.
“We spoke to the guys and identified our shortcomings. We have been working on our defence and we hope to convert the many chances we create when we return [from the Fifa calendar break],” he said.
Eymael is hoping to mark a turnaround in today’s Nedbank Challenge exhibition game against the Ke Yona Team at Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa.
Stars will resume their Premiership campaign against Eymael’s former club Polokwane City, who are also in the bottom segment of the log with one win in four matches.
Ea Lla Koto will be without captain Paulus Masehe for the game at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday.
Eymael said the defender took a knock on the knee during their 2-2 draw against Cape Town City at Goble Park last week.