JOHANNESBURG – The colourful Free State Stars’ coach Luc Eymael revealed the secret to how he has made an immediate impact at all the clubs he has managed in South Africa.
Eymael has turned Ea Lla Koto around in a short space of time since taking over from Sammy Troughton in August last year with the axe looming large over the Bethlehem side.
Six months later Stars are in fourth place and they are dark horses in the Absa Premiership race, even though the Belgian plays down their chances, arguing his first two targets are to save the team from relegation and finish in the top eight. Those two targets are likely to be achieved and Stars could even finish in the top four.
His work in Bethlehem proves that his instant success at Polokwane City and Bloemfontein Celtic weren’t a fluke.
“I have strong juju,” Eymael said. “No. I am joking. I don’t trust that. I am a child of God. I work hard my man. I work very differently to most coaches here.
“I am passionate. I study all the teams, look at their weaknesses and strengths. I don’t change my team based on who we are playing. I maintain my system. For me the boys have to work hard. But if working hard is only running, they would be fed up very soon.
“Therefore, for them to enjoy the training I mix things up. We have to repeat a lot of things that we work on tactically and technically. My boys, normally, if they are well in their heads, they can put pressure and hold their own against any team The secret perhaps is to win over the players and make them understand your philosophy and give them a lot of exercises to develop their mental capacity.”
The only blemish in Eymael’s good record is that he hasn’t settled in at one team in the country for various reasons. He laid the foundation for Rise and Shine to finish in the top eight for the first time in the club’s history last season. But he resigned before the season ended only to resurface at Bloemfontein Celtic the following day.
He never sat on the Celtic bench after Polokwane challenged his resignation. The PSL dispute resolution chamber ordered Eymael to return to Polokwane as they judged that he still had a valid contract with them.
Eymael was a frustrated figure in a place where he wasn’t wanted and he didn’t want to be there. He reached an agreement with the club to pay them the money he owed them, paving the way for Eymael to wash his hands with Rise and Shine and eventually join Stars.
“I have only been here for just over two years, so why would you say I haven’t settled in one place for a long time? I left Polokwane City because I wanted to leave there. I am very happy here. I have a contract for two years. I have a buy-out clause. I have refused so many clubs I have lost count.
This season I refused Etoile du Sahel, Wydad Casablanca and CS Sfaxien. I turned down offers in Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait because these people are treating me well. They are people who understand and listen. They support me We will see what will happen (in the future here). Only God knows what will happen.
I am here today. I don’t know where I will be tomorrow. We will see.”