Eymael gives his boys pat on the back

Thabo Maphakisa of Free State Stars, left, and Deon Hotto of Celtic during Saturday's game.
Thabo Maphakisa of Free State Stars, left, and Deon Hotto of Celtic during Saturday's game.
Image: Frikkie Kapp / BackpagePix

Free State Stars coach Luc Eymael admits that if Ea Lla Koto were to cement their place in the top five they have to improve in the final third.

Though the Belgian hailed his side for their "big heart" in the 1-1 draw against provincial rivals Bloemfontein Celtic at the weekend, Eymael still believed Stars should have scored more than an odd goal that helped them preserve a point at Goble Park on Saturday.

The hosts took the lead via Goodman Dlamini shortly after the half-time break, but their joy was short-lived when Victor Letsoalo equalised for Celtic.

"My boys showed a big heart against a best team in terms of fitness and tactical awareness. There was a big lack of concentration and another problem is that we are not converting," Eymael told Sowetan.

"We have to improve that [burying in the chances] because it is important for us to secure the top-eight, even the top-five [spot]."

Eymael quickly dismissed any perceptions that his players were distracted by their Nedbank Cup semifinal qualification given that Stars have not won in their last three outings since they beat National First Division side Ubuntu Cape Town in the Ke Yona quarterfinals last month.

"My players are human beings and they are trying to be the best. Hopefully, we'll go to the final because our game against Kaizer Chiefs is a
50-50," noted Eymael ahead of the semifinal clash against Amakhosi at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday (8.15pm).

Beyond the cup tie, Eymael highlighted the importance of returning to winning ways at home with three league games remaining.

They will travel to strugglers SuperSport United on Wednesday next week and face another relegation-threatened side, Polokwane City, at home three days later.

Stars will wrap up their season against Orlando Pirates next month.