SATURDAY! The best day of the week as ever begins with a trip to Beveren to see what Philip is up to as season 4 draws to a close…
Saturday again! Time to find out how the lads at the Freethiel will finish Season 4. Despite a very disappointing Cup exit against second division squad Diest, we overcame a small dip in our form and we are still in 2nd position with 12 matches remaining. Will we finish 3rd again? Let’s hope not, I have had too many of those already. We’ll see!
We start the blog with excellent news. I am not entirely sure what triggered his decision, but Appels (Grun) sees a future in our yellow & blue shirt.
There is over 8 million available, so let’s capitalise on this immediately before he changes his mind. Is this an offer to your liking Sir?
If you have been following the blog, you know that we have by now 10 regens in our starting line-up. Last week showed we can win like this, so I am not making changes. Injuries or suspensions aside, this is our base line-up.
We kick off the action against Germinal Ekeren. Van Meir (Preud’homme) has an off-day and concedes 2 easy goals. We go back home with a point.
Yes! Our best player and defensive leader signs his contract extension. Similar to Nasden, I will have him in the team until the 2006 WC.
That calls for a celebration. Our rivals of Lokeren are the victims and we send them back home with a dominating 3-0 win.
Leekens finally understands Velkeneers became our back-up goalkeeper and for the first time in a long period he doesn’t get a call-up. Appels (Grun) is our only representative in a match that Belgium absolutely needs to win.
Next up is Mechelen. It’s a difficult match and Appels (Grun) decides to help them a bit with a misdirected header. We’re saved by Bistrussu (Verschelde) who nets 2 goals at the end of the match. No matter what happens, he for sure has a great first season. Definitely beyond what I was expecting or hoping.
The best team at this moment is Standard. Since Broos took over, they started winning. And they keep winning. If they can keep this up, they are the favourite for the title. They even make it to the semi finals in the Champions League.
It goes from bad to worse for Belgium and Leekens. In a match that they should have always won, they don’t even manage to score. Despite this woeful performance Belgium at least got rid of the last place in the group.
For our next match against Lierse we miss both Nasden (Lemoine) and Laevers (Van Der Linden) due to suspension. Van Mol (Bettagno) & Lenaers (Ngonge) have their first starts. We have the Preud’homme regen in goal, Lierse have the Southall regen, who at the age of 19 already has 21 caps. We manage to beat him once in a 1-0 victory.
We recover Nasden (Lemoine) and Laevers (Van Der Linden) as we travel to Liege for our next match at Sclessin. We can keep up during the first half, but in the second half we are completely overrun and lose 4-1.
The beating at Standard doesn’t affect our confidence. We beat Geel 3-1 and they’re lucky we only score 3 times. With 6 matches to go, the hunt for the title promises to be exciting.
In Gent the lads get the job done in just 10 minutes. Standard and Anderlecht draw 1-1 and we’re again in 1st position.
What a season for Standard in the Champions League. They eliminate AC Milan and are off to the Final! Would I have been equally successful if I had accepted the Standard job last week?
And who will win the Belgian Cup? After looking at the results of the past 3 Cup Finals, the bookmakers are heavily favouring Diest, who eliminated us in the 2nd Round.
Those same bookmakers are giving us just a little chance to win the title. Could very well be, but we keep on winning.
Before we go into the season finale, Belgium finally gets their first WC Qualifier win. It gives Leekens a bit more credit.
Our next match is against Anderlecht. Again as league leaders, this time at home. The lads put up a strong performance, but it seems we have to be happy with a point. I scream from the dug-out to keep pushing. And then it happens, with powerful header just before the end Flies scores the winning goal. The Freethiel explodes! With 3 matches left to play, we control our own fate. Can we really do this?
We take the first hurdle in style.
Next up is Waregem, our last home match this season. If we win, the title is ours. C’mon lads!
In an almost fully packed Freethiel stadium our home crowd is shouting us to the title. We take the lead after a penalty goal from Bistrussu. But then somehow stress takes over and we cannot finish it off. Not only do they equalise, they could have easily won.
Last match day, we are still leading!
WHAT THE F***! This cannot be happening!! Van der Borght (Borkelmans) loses it completely and is sent off after just 2 minutes. On top of that we lose Van Meir (Preud’homme) due to injury. After that the team collapses and we give the title away………..
Standard draws and it is ultimately Anderlecht that wins the title. What a finale!!
I still cannot believe it. I have played this game a LOT, but giving the title away with 4 points ahead in the final 2 matches, I don’t think this has ever happened to me before. But let’s look at it from the bright side, at least we didn’t finish 3rd again *sarcastic grin*. And we’re in the preliminary round of the Champions League.
As predicted the away team wins the Belgian Cup. That’s now 4 Cup Finals in a row where the away team wins the Cup.
Standard are two penalties short of winning the Champions League.
Our contract management at the end of the season is very short. We say goodbye to our last non-Belgian player, Lamberd Smid. Even though he lost his place in the line-up, Flies gets (and signs) a contract extension.
We finish today’s update with Belgium and Leekens’ attempt to qualify for the 2002 WC. A win against Albania and a loss against Holland puts Belgium in 4th position. With 3 points behind 2nd position, it is still all to play for!
What a season this has been. It ended quite dramatically for us, but nonetheless we had a great season. Van Den Eede is top scorer of the league and voted Player of the Year, Bistrussu gets the Young Player of the Year award.
That’s it for today! Next week we start Season 5. Will we get any top regens and can we go for another title hunt? And where will we end up in the Champions League?
Tot volgende week!