Let me begin this week’s column by congratulating all the PSL clubs that have advanced to the quarterfinals of the Telkom Knockout. There were some exciting games in the last 16 of the competition, with some results resulting in coaches losing their jobs, or should I say they resigned as that seems to be the new way of putting it. But that’s a story for another day, I guess.
The draw for the quarterfinals has been conducted and in my view we can expect to see exciting football.
The Platinum Stars vs Mamelodi Sundowns game should, without a doubt, be interesting, based on the current form of the two teams. Although I have been impressed with a number of teams this season, including the Brazilians and Dikwena, I feel that I have to mention Free State Stars and the impressive work Steve Komphela and Themba Sithole are doing with the team.
After speaking to some members of the team recently, I have to acknowledge the fact that continuity seems to be what has kept Ea Lla Koto going over recent years. The management of the team has stuck by Komphela and his assistant throughout, and for me, that is one of the most important factors needed to build the best teams in football.
Stars have not won anything yet, that I know of. However, with the way the team is doing things and the team spirit that seems to exist, Komphela and his players are on the right track. Platinum Stars showed that anything is possible in South African football when they defeated Orlando Pirates in the MTN8. Moroka Swallows did it last season. Bloemfontein Celtic did it in the Telkom Knockout last season. Why can’t Free State Stars do it? I am particularly impressed with the team’s new signings, Daniel Agyei, Abdul Basit Adam and Camaldine Abraw. The players have added value to the team since joining. Signing new players is something Stars have been doing well over the years.
The team has been identifying and recruiting players that fit well in their system. It’s still very early in the season but the signs are there already that Stars will again be inundated with calls from clubs enquiring about players, as has been the case over the past few years. Sibusiso Mthethwa looks like the real deal and I have no doubt that this young man will be the next big star for Stars as he continues to make progress in the PSL.
I look at some of the best players in the PSL at the moment and notice that most of the clubs have players that have been at Stars earlier in their careers. Orlando Pirates have Thabo Matlaba, Thulasizwe Mbuyane, Ayanda Gcaba, Mpho Makola and Manti Moholo, all having joined the club from Stars. Mamelodi Sundowns have Kennedy Mweene and Mzikayise Mashaba in their team, while Kaizer Chiefs have Siphiwe Tshabalala with Sthembiso Ngcobo on loan at AmaZulu. The list goes on and on.
From what I have heard, Stars seem to have realised the need to hold on to their players now. It would be good for the management of Stars to stick to that, as the team can focus on doing well in the league and cup competitions with their players.
I'm not as poetic as Komphela might be in saying what needs to be done, but Stars need to keep the players they identify as quality and start challenging for trophies. It’s been a long time since the club last won a major trophy, namely the Coca-Cola Cup in 1994, the same year South Africa held its first democratic elections. It’s been almost two decades. Bring home a trophy Ea Lla Koto, it’s about time!
It’s all in the name of the beautiful game,
Follow Masebe on Twitter: @MasebeQina