News Live Scores
Features & Opinions

FEATURE: The numbers behind Free State Stars' relegation from the PSL

00:49 GMT+3 15/05/2019
Nikola Kazavovic, Free State Stars
Goal takes a look at the numbers behind FS Stars' dismal season as they prepare for life in the National First Division (NFD)

Free State Stars were relegated from the Premier Soccer League (PSL) last weekend after several seasons of battling at the bottom of the log. 

Ea Lla Koto clinched last season's Nedbank Cup trophy, and they were expected to build on that going forward. 

However, their slow start to the 2018/19 campaign saw them fall behind and they had to spend the better part of the season in the bottom half of the table.   

Luc Eymael started the season with them, but he left the club as the results were not forthcoming, and the Belgian mentor was replaced by Nikola Kavazovic, who was adamant that his team would survive relegation even after it became extremely difficult for them towards the end of the term. 

With their relegation from the elite league now official, Goal takes a look at the numbers behind their dismal season as the Bethlehem-based side prepares for life in the National First Division (NFD). 


THREE WINS IN THE FIRST 10 LEAGUE GAMES  


After 10 league games, Ea Lla Koto had already lost half of the games, winning just three and drawing two. 

This means Stars had 11 points in the bag. Usually, coaches target at least two points per game to be on the safer side throughout the campaign. 

Stars knew that they were in trouble, but there was still a long way to go, and perhaps they were hoping to recover from the Nedbank Cup hangover. 

But worrying was the fact that they were leaking goals - in those 10 league matches, Stars only managed three clean sheets - two of which were victories against Highlands Park and Bloemfontein Celtic

Had they solved this problem earlier in this season, they could have amassed enough points to be further away from the relegation zone in the closing stages of the season. 


SIX DEFEATS IN SEVEN LEAGUE GAMES


Between November 2018 and February 2019, Ea Lla Koto endured their worst run in the league when they lost six of their seven games. 

Perhaps this run had a negative impact on their hopes for survival as they only collected three points out of a possible 21. 

Again, Stars conceded in each of the seven matches, making life very difficult for themselves in the process. 

They were also not scoring enough which was another worrying factor for a team that was battling for survival - they found the back of the net five times while conceding 17, including five away to Cape Town City on January 16. 


THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL'S BACK  


The final 10 matches certainly summed up Ea Lla Koto's season, and there was no way they could have survived, especially after failing to collect maximum points early in the season. 

Stars managed a single win in their final 10 matches, and this was undoubtedly not good enough for a PSL team that had just lifted the Nedbank Cup trophy. 

This time around, Stars collected just eight points out of a possible 30 - this included five draws, one win, and four defeats. 

It was a very difficult period as they faced the likes of Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs, and Mamelodi Sundowns among others. 

The only side they managed to get all the points from was AmaZulu in March 2019, but things went from promising to worse until the final day of the season when they narrowly lost to Sundowns at Goble Park Stadium.  

Stars would feel hard done by the fact that none of the four defeats suffered during that period was by a big margin. They would lose 2-1 and 1-0, but the fact that they were not defending as a unit and also not scoring enough goals saw them return to the NFD for the first time since 2006.  


OVERALL PERFORMANCE  


Stars played 30 league games and won just six which amounts to only 18 points collected. They registered nine draws which saw them finish the season sitting on 27 points. 

The 2018 Nedbank Cup winners lost a whopping 15 games; the same number of games Maritzburg United lost throughout the season. 

They managed to find the back 31 times, an OK record compared to Maritzburg United's tally of 22 in 30 games, but they were just not good enough defensively as they conceded a whopping 47 - the highest in the league during the 2018/19 season.