BETHLEHEM - Controversial Free State Stars’ coach Luc Eymael has vowed to continue speaking in his frank manner that touches a lot of nerves and has seen the Belgian create a number of enemies in the country in a short space of time.
Eymael ruffled a lot of feathers when he questioned the standard of professionalism in the Premier Soccer League after he said that the Sisa Dukashe Stadium pitch wouldn’t be good enough for the eighth or ninth division league in Belgium.
A number of people, including club officials, reacted by saying that he should be grateful to be working in the country because if he was good enough he would be coaching in the elite league in his home country.
Eymael was very harsh to his players in Tuesday morning’s training session to prepare for Ea Lla Koto’s match against Kaizer Chiefs in the Nedbank Cup semifinal at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday. He was strict as a drill sergeant, barking instructions and throwing jibes at players who weren’t doing what they should have been doing.
“I speak very frankly,” Eymael said afterwards. “You saw at training, I speak very frankly. I will never say something behind my player’s back. When I have something to say, I will tell him to his face.
"I am man, I am not a kid. I do the same thing with the club’s management, I am frank with them. This is part of my personality. Some people appreciate this and some don’t appreciate it.
“I am not the nicest girl. But even the nicest girl in the world cannot please everyone and make everyone fall in love with her. Everyone is different. I speak frankly not only with journalists but also my management and players. This is the most important thing in life and I will not change it.”
Eymael’s frankness got him in trouble with the usually composed Chiefs’ coach Steve Komphela who hit out at coaches who openly spoke about their desire to coach Amakhosi. Komphela questioned the integrity of those coaches before telling them to be careful what they wished for. The tension between these two coaches adds spice to what already promises to be a mouth-watering contest.
“I think that’s not your problem (whether there is bad blood between I and Komphela),” Eymael said. “I was asked by a journalist (on Monday) whether this match is Komphela versus Eymael?
"I am 58 years old. My playing career finished a long time ago. I retired when I was 40, which is 18 years ago. Mr Komphela’s playing career is also finished. He is 50 years old now. It’s certainly not Komphela versus Eymael. There is no conflict. It’s only Chiefs versus Free State Stars.”
What also makes this clash interesting is that Eymael has been touted as one of the candidates that Amakhosi are looking at to replace Komphela, who is driven to ensure that he doesn’t finish three seasons with Chiefs without a trophy.
“These rumours are very badly interpreted from the side of Kaizer Chiefs,” Eymael said. “They can create a big rivalry between two people or between two clubs. But they are just rumours. I don’t believe in rumours.
"To speak frankly, I’ll even watch you straight in your eyes - until now, I have never been contacted by Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United. Other teams in the PSL have contacted me. Mr Rantsi (Mokoena, Stars general manager) knows those teams very well.”