Mon 19 Feb by Nick Said
Free State Stars’ Belgian coach Luc Eymael has a strong reputation in his homeland as someone with a strong eye for talent, having been credited with nurturing the likes of Eden Hazard and Christian Benteke in the past.He has used that reputation to land winger Maxime Cosse and persuade the 25-year-old to give up the comforts of Europe and make a new home in the town of Bethlehem in the Free State.Eymael’s reasoning is that Cosse, who has been developed through the excellent youth structures in Belgium, brings a “football intelligence” that he finds is at times lacking in South African football.Cosse, who is tall for a winger at over six feet, joined from the Belgian third-tier side Patro Eisden Maasmechelen having previously played in the country’s Second Division.He has already made two appearances off the bench, both resulting in Stars wins, and could make a real introduction to South African football fans if he can play a role in his side defeating league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns tomorrow (WEDNESDAY).Eymael believes it is the player’s versatility that will help him – he is able to play with both feet and on both wings, as well as a more central role, and that means almost having three players in one.The player himself says he has settled well and but for some searing summer heat – something he is not used too – is enjoying the experience of being in the Free State so far.“It’s a very nice feeling to be playing in the PSL,” Cosse said. “I am working very hard at training to get a starting 11 berth. There is still a room for improvement in my game.”Cosse says the South African Premier Soccer League stacks up well with Belgium in terms of standard.“If I take a look at the two leagues the Belgian and the PSL, I must admit that the PSL is much faster and has quality players compared to the Belgian league.“I still need to adapt to the weather conditions but I should be OK in the coming weeks.”Cosse started his career at amateur side RFC Seraing, before later playing for Tienen and then a first spell at Patro Eisden.
Having been previously released, he returned to the club for this season and scored three goals in 11 starts, catching the eye of Eymael.
The winger made his debut off the bench in the 2-0 victory over Baroka FC earlier this month, before featuring again in the 2-1 win against provincial rivals Super Eagles in the Last 32 of the Nedbank Cup.Stars are not out of the running for the league championship either, and victory over Sundowns would move them to within three points of the leaders with nine games remaining.That is a sign of the excellent work done by Eymael at Stars this season, taking a side that has been fighting for relegation for a number of seasons before his arrival and turning them into championship outsiders.If Cosse can settle quickly, he could become a vital cog in that most unlikely of title triumphs.