A Belgian Story – The Road to World Cup 2006: Part 8 | @verbist_philip

Happy Saturday! Philip is back to continue another season in Belgium where Beveren are on the march in season 3

Hallo allemaal!

Saturday again and I am here to get your weekend started!

Last week we took again a good start and after 10 games we find ourselves in 2nd position after Anderlecht.

The next 4 matches will give us an indication how good we are, and how we position ourselves against better teams. On domestic level we face first Anderlecht and then Club Brugge, and in the UEFA Cup we have our 2 matches against Helsingborg.

We start the difficult run in Sweden. We won 4 straight in the league so we embark on the trip with confidence. Three times we take the lead in the match, three times they equalise. A 3-3 draw, that’s not a bad result at all and it gives us a perspective to advance.

Next we travel to the south of Brussels to face Anderlecht. It is different nowadays, but in the 90’s nobody liked going to the Constant Vanden Stock stadium, afraid to go home with a beating. We are nowhere and are 4-0 down at the hour. Luckily they put on the brake after that and we still manage to score twice.

Can we do better against Club Brugge? At least we have the home advantage. Our home crowd is silenced quickly as Club Brugge takes the lead very early in the game. We had our chances, but the reality is that after 90 minutes we lose 1-3.

Not exactly what I had in mind before our second game against Helsingborg. Like Club Brugge they take an early lead and I am afraid we won’t be able to recover. However the lads get their act together and Jansta leads the way with 2 goals. We play a strong match and we deserve our spot in the last 16. Again we are the only Belgian representative in the 4th Round. The draw links us to Real Sociedad. Not easy, but looking at the other teams it could have been worse.

I am reflecting on our losses against Anderlecht and Club Brugge. Any Given Sunday that can happen, but the difference was bigger than I expected. I am taking a closer look at how everybody is performing, and I am not too satisfied with 2 players I have always put in my starting 11. Worst performer in team is Lamberd Smid. Our Czech captain has been struggling with his form since the first match. Also I notice that Bart Van Den Eede doesn’t have the goal average he had in his first 2 seasons.

For our next match we travel to the seaside. Perhaps it is because of the fresh sea air, but it is time for a few changes. Smid goes out and makes room for Coene (Segers). I move De Vreese up 1 line and Van Den Eede goes on the bench. We play Oostende with the following line-up. The changes pay off and De Vreese scores twice as our new number 10.

With Velkeneers as goalkeeper Belgium win their last qualification match and qualify for Euro 2000!

De Vreese nets another 3 goals in a 4-1 victory against Mechelen. That’s 5 goals in 2 matches. I should have put him sooner on number 10!

Next we travel to Spain for the first leg of our 4th Round UEFA Cup match-up against Sociedad. De Vreese doesn’t score this time, but we go home with an important and fully deserved victory.

We keep the winning spirit and we beat our rivals Lokeren. De Vreese is an absolute nightmare for their defence. He fires from all angles and they are lucky he scores just 2 goals.

Next up is Mouscron. My new striker combo Peersman/De Vreese is having fun and together they score 6 times.

Mouscron was a perfect appetiser to defend our 2-0 bonus against Real Sociedad. We get an early 2-0 lead and they don’t manage to put us under pressure. All in all we advance rather easily to the Quarter Finals! We go to Italy next: AS Roma.

We are already mid December and that traditionally means the first round of the Belgian Cup. We host second division squad Turnhout. We have had better matches, but we advance and that’s what matters in Cup games.

Harelbeke is our last opponent before the winter break. We go skiing with a good feeling.

With a gluhwein in hand on top of a Swiss mountain, I conclude the changes to the line-up worked out very well: 8 consecutive wins (domestic and UEFA) and plenty of goals. The value of the team is rising, with De Vreese and Appels topping the list. De Vreese was already excellent, at number 10 he is even better. If Appels keeps up his current form, I am sure he will get a first cap this season.

It is an uneventful winter break and we pick up the action again in the 2nd round of the Belgian Cup. We should not have any issue with second division team Beerschot. Rubinelson is suspended, so De Vreese moves back 1 line. Van Den Eede is grateful to get another start: he scores and gets the Man of Match award.

With a home match against Mechelen the quarter final draw is in our favour. Anderlecht and Club Brugge are already out.

The season is now halfway. We are in 3rd position and if we can maintain more or less our form, we should finish top-5.

For our next match, we cross the river Scheldt to play Antwerp. They are 2nd, and with Appels and Peersman injured, we are missing a few important players. Thanks to 2 disallowed goals for Antwerp, we go back home with a point.

Our next 2 matches are against lower ranked teams Tongeren and Westerlo. I notice Geert Van Meir’s (Preud’homme) current form is very good. I decide it is time to give our top regen of this year his first 2 starts. Mission? Get 2 wins starting a new regen goalkeeper. Mission accomplished!

Aalst is a tougher opponent, but I decide to give Van Meir (Preud’homme) another start. He plays a decent match in an easy win.

Last one for today is our quarter final in the Belgian Cup against Mechelen. With players like Djibril Diawara and Rob Alflen, I should not underestimate them and I put Velkeneers back in. No worries Geert, there will be other opportunities later in the season. We are dominant all game long, but we need an overtime goal of De Vreese to advance.

Only Charleroi stands in the way of our first trip to the Koning Boudewijnstadium! Can we make it to the Final?

Tot volgende week!

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