Nikola Kavazovic says he will stay at the club and bring in some silverware next season. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Free State Stars’ coach, Nikola Kavazovic, used two words to explain how he felt being at the helm of Ea Lla Koto when they were relegated to the NFD on Saturday at Goble Park.

“Like s***,” the Serbian coach responded. What made Stars’ suffering worse was that while they were distraught, Mamelodi Sundowns were over the moon during their coronation as the 2018/19 Absa Premiership champions. But Kavazovic, who vowed to stay with the club if they will have him, promised that come May next year  Stars will be the one lifting a trophy.

“The balance of youth and experience that we have will help us return to the top division in less than 12 months ... I don’t see any team there (in the NFD) that is better than us and I have no doubt that we are going to come back,” Kavazovic said. “We must accept things with dignity. We had Chippa (United), Baroka and (Black) Leopards at home. All those teams aren’t on our level, but we didn’t show that on the pitch. We won only two out of a possible 11 points. And that’s where we got relegated. We weren’t relegated (on Saturday). We must restore our dignity. We must come up with a plan, to make reconstruction and to come back immediately next season.”

Stars’ relegation is a huge contrast to the scenes in Bethlehem in May last year. Then, Ea Lla Koto were celebrating winning the Nedbank Cup for the first time in the club’s history. But instead of building on that success, they stuck with being the Stars’ team that’s constantly fighting to avoid relegation.

They didn’t reinforce the team adequately and lost key players.

Instant promotion might be the only thing to save the Bethlehem based outfit as the NFD has led to the “death” of a number of respected clubs. “I failed to release them of pressure,” Kavazovic said, explaining what led to their relegation. “Leaving five months under pressure caused some huge mistakes and led to missed chances that were more difficult to miss than to score. Some errors in defensive line also cost us. All those mistakes didn’t come from a lack of individual quality ... Let’s say that I failed to come up with a psychological plan that would have kept them away from all those efforts from other side, through the media, to disturb us.”

The Argus

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