Cape Town - Free State Stars face the rest of the season without leading scorer Andrea Fileccia after a horror tackle from Bloemfontein Celtic’s Tshepo Rikhotso on Saturday.
Stars won 1-0 thanks to a Lucky Mohomi goal to continue their recent run of good form, but the victory has come at a cost with Belgian Fileccia rushed to hospital.
And the news was not good for the 24-year-old, with the club later confirming he had torn a ligament in his knee, which is likely to require at least six months of rehabilitation.
"I'm very, very happy for this victory and a little bit sad because of the injury to Fileccia," Stars’ Italian coach Giovanni Solinas told reporters. "This victory is for Fileccia.”
Rikhotso received just a yellow card for his challenge when he might easily have been sent-off by referee Victor Gomes, who ironically is usually keen to stamp out all ill-discipline with a flash of red.
The Belgian forward is Stars’ leading scorer this season with six goals, this after he was almost released at the end of the last campaign.
Ea Lla Koto had been keen to part ways with the forward, but Fileccia insisted they honour his contract and he repaid them for that faith before this crippling injury.
Having signed an initial two-year deal with the team, there is the possibility that the player has made his final appearance for the club.
Stars’ next highest scorer this season is Danny Venter with three goals, while the forward duo of Sthembiso Ngcobo and Moeketsi Sekola have just three goals between them.
But Stars have seen an upturn in their fortunes since the arrival of Solinas having won back-to-back games. They have in fact registered just a single defeat in their last five games.
Next up is unpredictable SuperSport United on Saturday.