Free State Stars out to turn tragedy into triumph

FILE IMAGE: Khama Billiat of Kaizer Chiefs waltzes past Bangaly Keita, left and Paulus Masehe of Free State Stars during their league match in Bethlehem.
FILE IMAGE: Khama Billiat of Kaizer Chiefs waltzes past Bangaly Keita, left and Paulus Masehe of Free State Stars during their league match in Bethlehem.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/ BackpagePix

Things are generally back to normal at Free State Stars following Sinethemba Jantjie’s death and the club is now fully focused on the fight to escape relegation.

Ea Lla Koto, who are 15th on the log, were dealt a big blow when the winger died in a car crash last week. He was buried at the weekend.

During the funeral, the Stars ’ players promised through their captain Paulus Masehe that they are going to play the remaining games in honour of Jantjie.

A few days after the funeral, Stars general manager Rantsi Mokoena confirmed to Sowetan that the players are doing well and they are in the right frame of mind ahead of the big clash against Orlando Pirates on Saturday (Orlando Stadium, 8.15pm).

“We’ve got no issues and we are preparing as normal. We went to the funeral and we’ve tried to seek closure as much as we can,” Mokoena said yesterday.

He declined to comment on whether there are players who may need psychological help, save to say they are keeping a close eye on the group.

“If you identify the guys who need it, you help them out. But we are OK and I also don’t want to expose the guys who may be going through psychologists. That is for us to handle,” he said.

Stars have some difficult games coming up. After Pirates, they face Highlands Park (away), Baroka (home), Golden Arrows (A), Kaizer Chiefs (A) and Mamelodi Sundowns (H).

Despite the challenge, Mokoena is confident the team can pull through and retain their PSL status.

“This league is interesting. You say we find ourselves in a difficult situation but by the end of this week we may have moved up,” Mokoena added.

Stars were in a similar situation in the past. After losing striker Richard Henyekane, who also died in a car accident in 2015, they managed to maintain their status. They went on an incredible run of five straight league wins.

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