Johannesburg - Former Bafana Bafana and Free State Stars coach Steve Komphela believes it is too soon to panic after his team's nightmarish start to the season.
Free State Stars had so far suffered two successive defeats -- one in the Premier League and one in the MTN8 Cup -- and conceded seven goals.
The coach was decidedly frustrated by his team's inability to cope with set-piece situations during his team's 3-0 cup defeat at the hands of Platinum Stars at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Saturday afternoon.
All three Platinum Stars' goals were initiated from set pieces, with Benson Mhlongo opening the score in the 26th minute with a perfectly-timed header following a corner.
Siphele Mthembu produced a second headed goal in the 73rd minute from Mogakolodi Ngele's swerving free-kick, with Ngele completing the job himself by scoring directly from another acute-angled free-kick in referee's optional time.
"When a defending team is confronted by a set piece," said the articulate Komphela, "it is like a warning bell to take steps to ward off the danger.
"But conceding all three goals in a game following set pieces suggests the defence has been something akin to sitting ducks and not heeding the danger."
Komphela, however, did not place the blame for this entirely on the loss of much-acclaimed goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene to Mamelodi Sundowns, with the Zambian international having been a long-time tower of strength for the Free State side.
Komphela has already fielded two different goalkeepers as replacements for Mweene in the defeat against Platinum Stars and the 4-1 loss to SuperSport United, but he says it would be unfair to heap all the blame on the goalkeepers.
"The defence as a unit must share in the blame," he added, "with refereeing decisions a major reason for the loss against SuperSport when we were reduced to 10 men after leading 1-0."
Komphela said Free State Stars had approached the new PSL season with high hopes and he remained optimistic in spite of the sitting-duck lapses and refereeing shortcomings.
Meanwhile, Platinum Stars coach, Allan Freeze had no such headaches to worry about, although he believed last season's Premier League runners-up were still far from being in peak form and would improve when a number of injured players were back in harness.
Freeze was Stars' assistant coach to Cavin Johnson last season when the Rustenburg club finished second to Kaizer Chiefs in the premiership log table and there were worries about a decline after Johnson had switched to SuperSport United in a controversial move.
But judging by Saturday's performance, Platinum Stars were on the same smooth course, reaching their first semi-final of the R8-million winner-takes-all MTN8 tournament.