A Belgian Story – The Road to World Cup 2006: Part 11 | @verbist_philip

Happy Saturday! Here’s Philip with the Beveren Boys.

Hallo allomaal!

Happy Saturday! Welcome back to my hometown Beveren. The mood in town is good. Everybody was expecting a more difficult season after the loss of several key players. So far however the team is doing surprisingly well and after 12 matches we find ourselves in a great, yet somehow unexpected, 2nd position.

The first round exit in the Cup Winners Cup was a bit bummer, but all things considered, we are not strong enough yet for a team of that calibre.

Anderlecht is in pole position for a new title. Can we keep up with them in the second part of the season? Last year Eric Gerets led them to the title and they certainly have the squad to go for back to back titles. With 2 titles in the last 3 seasons, Gerets is without doubt one of the best managers at the moment in Belgium.

We start today’s blog with Belgium’s 3rd WC qualification match. Velkeneers and Appels earn another cap, but cannot prevent a 2-0 loss in Romania. That’s 2/9 and an abysmal last place after 3 matches. Even San Marino is ahead of Belgium. After the match Leekens tells the press he is not worried and saw several positive elements. Not sure what match he was watching or had in mind, but Leekens always knows best.

Back to the league now where we are hosting Westerlo. The player with the worst rating in the team at the moment is Coene (Segers). I know the left wing back position is a difficult one, but he had his chance to prove himself. I decide it is time for a change and Chris Scifo (Moury) gets his first start of the season. We start with a dominant 3-0 victory. The only downside is that we lose Flies for several weeks.

We travel to Anderlecht leading the league. With Flies injured there are again 10 regens in the starting line-up. Last time we did that, it didn’t go all too well so I am a bit worried. However we play a strong first half and their 2-1 lead is far from deserved. Bistrussu (Verschelde), replacement of Flies, is happy with his chance and scores. We try to equalise in the second half, but slowly Anderlecht take over and score another 2 times.

Next we host Mouscron, who are currently in last position. No better opportunity to recover from one of our biggest losses so far. In theory at least. It proves however more difficult. We miss all our chances in a disappointing 0-0 draw.

Time now for the first round of the Belgium Cup. This would be the perfect time to win our first match with 10 regens in the line-up. And we do: a strong 0-3 win and place in the Second Round, where we will host second division squad Diest.

Was this a lucky shot? We start with the same 11 and boy do we get a good result: we give Waregem a 0-4 spanking.

Same 11, a third victory in a row? Unfortunately not, Harelbeke keeps up at a 3-3 draw after a spectacular first half.

Bistrussu (Verschelde) proves he can be a worthy replacement for Flies. Just 1 goal in 6 matches, but his average rating is excellent. Flies has recovered from his injury, but I don’t see a need to make change in my starting 11.

Our last match before the winter break is at home against Turnhout. Again a good performance of Bistrussu (with a goal this time) and the team, but we make it difficult for ourselves. At the end of the game they get 2 penalties, in the same minute even, and we’re lucky Vos balloons them both. This game never seizes to amaze me with its excellent scenarios, luckily this one turns out in our favour!

No lockdown in the Year 2000 and we are off skiing in the Alps. Apart from Lambert ‘without working permit’ Smid, Dutch man Torken is the only non-Belgian player left in the squad. In reality he had a decent career in Beveren, but in this save he wasn’t able to get himself regularly in the line-up. Just before the New Year 4 teams make an offer. I hesitate, but in the end decide to accept the bids and he is off to the Premier League.

Then something very annoying happens. There is an offer on my 115-Ability anchor point. I step into the bidding and give him a ridiculously high offer in order to convince him over (and then turn down the offer so that he stays a free transfer). Blinded by money he accepts, but our silly Belgian government refuses to issue a working permit and gone he is. Let’s see if we can find a replacement anchor point at the end of the season.

A few days later a similar thing happens. This time a bid on our 120-Ability anchor point. This time my tactic works out fine and he stays a free agent.

After the winter break we pick up the action again in the second round of the Belgian Cup. We forgot our head and focus in the Alps and we suffer an overtime upset against second division squad Diest. How did we do as defending Cup winners? Judging the reaction of the board not too well. I have to say, I am pretty pissed off about it also.

Our next game is at Antwerp and we are not able to step up our game. We are dominated in every aspect and thanks to Van Meir (Preud’homme) it is still 1-0 after 70 minutes. Van Den Eede equalises unexpectedly and it seems we’re going home with a lucky point. Until the 88th minute, then Champara gives Antwerp what they deserve.

We did great so far, but I kept in the back of my mind that a setback using that many regens was a possibility. Have we come to that moment? In our next match we draw against Charleroi. Even though we played a lot better, a draw is a fitting result for the game.

But then the team shows its resilience and its spirit: a dominating performance and victory at Aalst.

What were you saying, a setback? Not at all coach, let us show you how good we are. The lads finish today’s blog in style with a superb win against Club Brugge.

Allright, let’s have a look at the standings after 22 matches. Still in second position! The rise of Standard is remarkable, Broos for sure got this team running again. If they would’t have lost that many points early on, they would be competing with Anderlecht for first position.

Can we keep our form and position during the last part of the season? Or will we somehow end up 3rd again? We will find out next week.

Tot volgende keer!

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