JOHANNESBURG - Belgian-born coach Luc Eymael, who was involved in a bitter contractual dispute with Polokwane City just several months ago, has resurfaced as the new man in charge at Free State Stars following the surprise sacking of Sammy Troughton, the Bethlehem outfit confirmed in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
Barely a day after holding Absa Premiership champions Bidvest Wits to a 2-2 draw at Goble Park Stadium, Ea Lla Koto sent Troughton packing having only been at the helm for two matches since the start of the 2017/18 campaign. The club then moved quickly to secure the services of controversial – but proven and successful – Eymael on a two-year contract.
The statement read: “We trust and believe that with his experience, passion and worth ethic he is the right person to take Free State Stars back to its winning ways. It is, however, with regret that we terminate our contract with coach Sammy as the mutual feeling was that the two could not work together because of their different philosophies of football.”
Stars claimed in the same statement that neither Eymael nor Troughton were open to the idea of being co-coaches.
“As the saying goes ‘there can only be one bull in the kraal’, and the two coaches believe that they are both head coaches and as a result it would have been difficult for coach Sammy to work under coach Luc as an assistant,” the club said.
Eymael, a vocal personality with an impressive record at previous club City as well as the other teams he’s worked with in the African continent, had also joined Ea Lla Koto rivals Bloemfontein Celtic late last season until his former employers dragged him to the PSL Dispute Resolution Chamber for what they believed was a breach of contract.
The committee ruled in the club’s favour and Celtic, despite trying all the could to hold on to him, had no choice but to also terminate his contract, which was deemed illegal. Eymael returned to his native country after it was clear he wouldn’t continue as City coach even after all the drama to force him to return.
He now takes over at Stars, with the expectation that he will help them avoid relegation and bring the same magic he brought to a City side that seems to have built on that momentum under current coach Bernard Molekwa.