A Belgian Story – The Road to World Cup 2006: Part 14 | @verbist_philip

Welcome to your CM9798 weekend. I was going to try and do an intro but Philip’s is much better. Enjoy your latest trip to Beveren!

Hallo allemaal!

Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, it’s a Saturday-ay-ay. On the groove of De La Soul we’re not going rollerskating, but continuing Season 5 with the Beveren Boys.

Last week we welcomed a bunch of quality regens. If we can develop them to their potential, we will become a force able to compete with the Big Three. The first part of Season 5 started very good: we’re in 2nd position after 8 games and we managed to qualify for the CL Group Stage.

Last week we finished the blog with our first CL Group Stage point. I keep confidence in the same 11 and we kick off today’s blog at Charleroi. We open in style!

I don’t dare to make any bold predictions just yet, but the team is good. Of course I shouldn’t have said that. It’s as if the game is reading with me over my shoulder and decides to shake things up a bit.

I keep getting offers for Appels (Grun). What else is new? No Hugo, he is not for sale. Not now, not tomorrow, not until the 2006 WC is over.

But before that we will first have the 2002 WC. Finally a dominant victory for Belgium. With one last match to play, the only thing that is left is tiny bit of hope.

Next we host Westerlo. Six (Brogno) takes the place of Nasden (Lemoine). And let’s try a small experiment: with F. Scifo (Van Rethy) out on suspension, can Van Acker (Staelens) play the DM C position? I believe he can, but it doesn’t turn out as expected.

Perhaps experimenting wasn’t the greatest of ideas, knowing you play at Old Trafford next. We are still too small for a team like Man Utd and we return home with a 3-1 loss. Scott ‘Lockdown Challenge 2’ Booth scores their final goal.

So far the CL matches are not affecting our domestic form. We pick up a solid 0-2 win at Aalst a few days later.

Next we host league leaders Club Brugge, who are steaming through the league with 31/33. Can we hand them their first loss? Yes we can! Hero of the match is Van Den Eede, who gets us the win with two late end goals. What a great victory!

The win motivates the team. The lads put a good performance against PSV and we grab our second Champions League point. This is a match we could have won..

Lead by an outstanding Appels (Grun) we pick up the 3 points at Lokeren. Van Den Eede & Bistrussu (Verschelde) gives us goals aplenty, but this guy is without any doubt the leader of the team.

No Eric, as I said earlier to Hugo, he is NOT for sale.

Just before the final WC qualifier match, we get this message. The 2002 WC dream falls apart! Belgium finishes the campaign as it started: poorly. How much credit does Leekens still have?

Another domestic win and another perfect rating for Appels (Grun). He has never played better than this. Way to go!

We will need his defensive leadership as in our next match we travel to Lisbon. The impressive stadium and home crowd have its impact: 1-0 down after 3 minutes already. Luckily Benfica doesn’t have its best evening either and only score once.

We won’t make it to the next round. Hmm, that’s not much of a surprise, is it.

The lads are not used to playing a lot of mid-week matches and for the first time it shows. In our next match Waregem is the much better team. Luckily Bistrussu saves us a point and scores in our only attempt on target.

Next up is Lierse with the Neville regen in goal. Dammit that guy is difficult to beat! Well, once is enough for another 3 points.

Time flies! We’re already at our final CL match. Third home match, third point? Yes, Sir! And with that, we end our European campaign this season. Goal accomplished I would say. We made it to the Group Stage and managed to get 3 points. But it is clear there is still a lot of progress to make if we want to be competitive in here.

No 2002 World Cup for Belgium, so all that remains this season are a few meaningless friendlies. Of course when it doesn’t matter at all, they put up a decent performance.

Similar to last season Standard didn’t start too well. They have been climbing up the standings lately, but it isn’t as spectacular as last year. Hugo Broos decides to spend some money. Will the Hagi regen turns things around for them?

The winter break is now approaching quickly. We travel to Anderlecht for a difficult first round match in the Belgian Cup. We recover Nasden (Lemoine) and I make another important change. Lately Abeels’ (Nilis) form and morale have been very low and I decide to give Marien (Wilmots) a chance. Both of them score and we advance after a superb 4-5 victory. What an epic match! Next we host Waregem.

Our last match before the winter break is at Mechelen, and that’s always a difficult one. Both Nasden (Lemoine) and Marien (Wilmots) were pivotal in our win at Anderlecht and start again. The lads cannot put up the same performance and we lose 2-1.

The season is now halfway. We have 39 points, our best result ever halfway, but still we are only 3rd. The Big Three is having a great season also. Anyway now we’re off skiing!

I am having a gluhwein at the top of a Swiss mountain when I receive a phone call from my agent. If I am interested in the FC Porto job? Oh boy, this would be a no-brainer if there weren’t the rules of engagement. But for now I’ll have to pass.

Apart from yet another bid on Appels (Grun), it is quite an uneventful winter. The only difference is that the price goes up, the answer remains no.

Back to the action with the second round in the Belgian Cup. This time we don’t get surprised and advance rather easily to the next round.

Our last match for today’s blog is at Antwerp. Another great performance. In case you were doubting, we will be ready for the final part of the season!

Allright, that’s it for today. Next week we will finish Season 5. Will we compete again for the title?

Tot volgende week!

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