Ey­mael basks in Cup glory

African Times - - Sports - VIS­UAL BUZZ SA

When Free State Stars lifted the Ned­bank Cup in Cape Town, it must have been a bit­ter pill for Polok­wane City to swal­low.

De­spite an early exit, Luc Ey­mael played a huge role in Polok­wane’s sixth-place fin­ish the 2016/17 Pre­mier Soc­cer League sea­son. Bernard Molekwa has a fu­ture in South African foot­ball and the club showed ex­em­plary pa­tience in him dur­ing a dif­fi­cult sea­son where they en­sured their PSL lives on the last day but he’s no Ey­mael.

It is clear there’s some­thing the ec­cen­tric Bel­gian does very well and his name will ring through the an­nals of Free State Stars his­tory. He en­sured the club will not only be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup next sea­son, but lifted won their first piece of sil­ver­ware in 24 years.

Whether or not he would have won a tro­phy with Polok­wane City is highly de­bat­able but the 2017/18 sea­son was a strange one. Su­per­Sport United and Bid­vest Wits flirted with rel­e­ga­tion yet they were the re­spec­tive MTN8 and Telkom Knock­out Cup win­ners. Be­cause of Ajax Cape Town’s fa­tal ad­min­is­tra­tive laps in re­gards with Tendai Ndoro, Su­per­Sport will de­fend their ti­tle next sea­son. That goes to show how un­pre­dictable was the re­cently ended sea­son.

It would have been dif­fi­cult to put money on Stars win­ning a tro­phy, even though their dis­mis­sive 2-0 semi-fi­nal win against Kaizer Chiefs in the now­in­fa­mous match at the Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium was the warn­ing that wasn’t heeded by Mar­itzburg United.

It is a vic­tory for foot­ball that Stars won the tro­phy be­cause there has to be life out­side of the big three. Money is al­ways go­ing to be a prob­lem for clubs like these, which makes cup vic­to­ries un­for­get­table.

The magic of knock­out foot­ball was re­stored in this tour­na­ment as the big sides fell by the way­side and al­lowed the smaller units to revel in their ab­sence. The monies these teams ac­crue by go­ing deep into these com­pe­ti­tions go a long way in terms of en­sur­ing long-term sta­bil­ity.

Ey­mael was happy with the work he put in with Free State Stars and has no qualms with Polok­wane City. Ey­mael now stands out in South Africa as the only for­eign coach to win a tro­phy last sea­son. This shows how dom­i­nant the likes of Pitso Mosi­mane, Gavin Hunt and Eric Tin­kler have been in the past 18 months.

“Leav­ing Polok­wane City was my de­ci­sion and I think it’s not the best de­ci­sion that I took. How­ever, I think I par­tic­i­pated a lot in how well they did last sea­son. Celtic was an­other story and I got some bad ad­vice. It wasn’t a ques­tion of time and it wasn’t mat­ter of what I did be­cause at the end of the day, you’re just a coach and do­ing that from the stand is very dif­fi­cult,” Ey­mael said.

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