Former Free State Stars Coach Steve Komphela is hopeful that Ea Lla Koto will bounce back immediately following their relegation from the Absa Premiership.

The Bethlehem-based outfit suffered heartbreak on the final day of the season in May when they fell from the PSL Promotion/Relegation Play-Off spot of 15th place to the automatic drop zone of 16th, ending their 12-year association with South Africa’s top-flight league.

Their final result was a narrow 1-0 loss to champions Mamelodi Sundowns, meaning they lost out to Maritzburg United on goal difference. Although Komphela is hurt, he feels they have the capacity to immediately strike back.

Komphela is a legend of Free State Stars having first played for them, before going on to successfully coach them in the Premiership.

The ex-central defender spent five years with the club when they were still known as Qwa-Qwa Stars and then went on to coach in two spells between 2008 and 2013 – a total of 11 years’ service.

Another legend of Ea Lla Koto is midfield kingpin Paulus Masehe who hung up his boots at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old spent 10 seasons with the Free Staters, having also featured for clubs likes Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates, and his retirement is a big blow, according to Komphela.

The retirement of Masehe follows hot on the heels of two other legends of South African football retiring from the game at the end of 2018/19.

Former Bafana Bafana duo Siyabonga Nomvethe of AmaZulu and Cape Town City’s Teko Modise announced they were also quitting and Komphela believes the pair, as well as Masehe needed to be given new roles within the footballing system so that their knowledge of the game would not be wasted.

He said that the local game had a bad habit of forgetting former players and hoped the same will not happen with these three servants. Report by Thahir Asmal