Sammy signs for FS Stars

Club hopes jour­ney­man Troughton can keep them in the top flight

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MA­ZOLA MNOLEFE @su­per­journo

FREE State Stars have ap­pointed Sammy Troughton, pic­tured, as new coach and be­lieve the well-trav­elled for­mer Mpumalanga Black Aces, Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria and Stel­len­bosch FC men­tor will help them in their pur­suit for sta­bil­ity as they ex­pect yet an­other fight for sur­vival dur­ing the up­com­ing 2017/18 Pre­mier League sea­son.

Troughton quit his job at Na­tional First Di­vi­sion side Stel­len­bosch last month, hav­ing missed out on pro­mo­tion, beaten to the punch by Baroka FC, who fin­ished top of the pro­mo­tion play-off mini-league, which also in­cluded Black Leop­ards, to re­tain their topflight sta­tus.

“Look at his track record and tell me if he isn’t the right fit for this club. In Sammy we have an ex­pe­ri­enced coach that can make sure Stars is sta­ble in the new sea­son. We are be­ing hon­est with our­selves and look­ing at sur­vival,” said Ea Lla Koto boss Rantsi Mokoena.

“He has never rel­e­gated a team he worked with and for years at the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria the team was steady, even when they kept sell­ing play­ers to the big­ger clubs.

“A lot of peo­ple might not know this, but Sammy has worked at Stars be­fore and we en­joyed him be­ing here. Sure, he ad­mit­ted he didn’t see this com­ing, but was happy to take up the chal­lenge and knows that the mar­gins for er­ror in the Pre­mier League are even smaller than in the NFD.”

Stars were re­port­edly chas­ing an­other NFD coach sev­eral weeks ago in Jean Lus­ci­uto, the Bel­gian who, like Troughton, came close to guid­ing Leop­ards back to the Pre­mier League.

Mokoena would not be drawn into dis­cussing Stars’ in­ter­est in Lus­ci­uto, ar­gu­ing that the club has never said they were keen in bring­ing him to Beth­le­hem.

Troughton will start his new job al­most im­me­di­ately with the play­ers soon in pre-sea­son ahead of the be­gin­ning of a fresh cam­paign next month.

It will be a tough task for the 53-yearold, see­ing that Stars were up against it from the first kick of the ball last year un­der then French­born coach Denis Lav­agne, who was sacked af­ter three matches and re­placed by Gio­vanni Soli­nas, but was also sent pack­ing four months down the line, with Ser­ame Let­soaka tak­ing over.

Like his pre­de­ces­sors, Let­soaka did not have much of an im­pact, al­though the club sur­vived rel­e­ga­tion on the fi­nal day of the sea­son – only thanks to a su­pe­rior goal dif­fer­ence.

It is that close shave with the chop that did not con­vince Mokoena, and Let­soaka’s con­tract was not re­newed at the end of the cam­paign.

“We are con­fi­dent that Sammy can keep us up. He knows the cul­ture and foot­ball in this coun­try and is a worka­holic. Some peo­ple might say it’s a risk, but we think it is a cal­cu­lated risk as we have brought in some­one quite knowl­edge­able and will be a good fit for us and we have Sly (as­sis­tant coach) al­ready here and they know each other very well,” said Mokoena.

Se­laotse “Sly” Mos­ala was hired last month while the search for a head coach was on go­ing.

Troughton, who worked with Mos­ala at the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria, should be in the dugout when Stars play in the an­nual Bokone Bophir­ima Maize Cup in Orkney on July 15 against Kaizer Chiefs, Plat­inum Stars and Botswana’s Town­ship Rollers.

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