A Belgian Story – The Road to World Cup 2006: Part 17 | @verbist_philip

Here’s Philip with the latest from Beveren to start your weekend the right way

Hallo allemaal!

Happy Saturday! As of last week we are a full regen squad. That required a tough decision: putting Van Den Eede, our local hero of the past 5 seasons, on the bench. Our home crowd wasn’t too pleased, but slowly Abeels (Nilis) is winning over their hearts. Making a transition from a successful formula takes time, and our board made clear at the end of last week’s update that a 6th position is not what they had in mind. I have no doubts that what we are doing is the right thing. Let’s see how it goes further, shall we?

We start off with our 3rd match in the CL Group Stage against PSV. Last year we got a draw, sadly not this year though. It is a match with plenty of chances on both sides, unfortunately we don’t manage to score against Buffon.

At domestic level we start with a strong win against Westerlo.

We are not the only ones who have to step up their game. Eric Gerets doesn’t like losing, especially at home, so I can imagine his yelling in the locker room.

Welcome back Appels (Grun)! We are a better team when you are on the field. Man of the match is Abeels (Nilis) who scores his very first hat trick. He continues to improve week after week.

Our last home match in this Champions League campaign is against PSG and we finish in style. For the first time we beat a top team! And well deserved!

Before walking onto the field Goor (Van Kets) takes me aside and tells me, “If Abeels (Nilis) can score a hat trick, I can do the same”. I am not saying no to that lad! Last year the combo Van Den Eede/Bistrussu (Verschelde) gave us the title. But if these 2 live up to their potential, they should be even more lethal.

Time now for Belgium’s 2nd qualification match. Despite using 3 of our players, Belgium cannot build on their great start and draw at home against Finland.

Our form is on the rise and a big contributor to that is Nasden (Lemoine). It is a pity to see him go out again for a few months this season. On the other hand it does give Six (Brogno) the opportunity to further mature. He starts off good and plays a strong match against Mechelen. The more offensive weapons we have in the team the better!

We travel to Turkey in search for another win. De Wilde (Van Der Elst) is suspended and Cannaerts (Emmers) get his first start. We concede 2 avoidable goals, but manage to equalise each time quite quickly. The red card of Six (Brogno) takes away our dominance. After that we can no longer make a push for the winning goal. We walk from the field with a disappointed feeling, we should have gone home with another 3 points.

Next we host Aalst. Appels (Grun) makes a silly mistake in the box and after the resulting penalty they take the lead. We are the far better team though and secure the win in the final 15 minutes of the game.

We recover Van Acker (Staelens) in the clash with our rivals of Lokeren. We do score twice, however we should have scored at least 2 times more.

We travel north of the border for our final CL match. We end our European campaign with a 5-2 defeat at PSV. This match is not the best reference, but we definitely played better than last year. We finish with 7 points and it should have been more.

Our next match is against Kortrijk and it is a quite an entertaining one: a combined 44 shots on goal. I didn’t see that too often before. Injuries of several months seem to be the norm this season. Next one in line: Goosens (Scifo).

The season is now halfway. We moved up from 6th to 1st position.

A Cup match against a non-league opponent should be an excellent way for our attackers to add some goals to their total. Bistrussu (Verschelde) only scores once, Abeels (Nilis) nets another 3. A comparison of his current value and stats compared to the one a few weeks earlier shows how good he is becoming. This is clearly his breakthrough season!

Our last match before the winter break is against Harelbeke. We give away 2 valuable points.

Besides a fantastic skiing trip in Switzerland, nothing exciting happened during the winter break. We resume the action in the second round of the Belgian Cup, where we host Charerloi. Englebert (Vervoort) is injured and Peiremans (Kiekens) gets his first chance to start a match. De Wilde (Van Der Elst) is sent off after 21 minutes and I take no risk: Cannaerts (Emmers) comes in to ensure our midfield is not overrun. Marien (Wilmots) & Abeels (Nilis) do the rest.

I wonder how many times we already played Standard in the Cup. At least it’s at home.

We travel to Bruges next. They take a furious start and we’re down 2-0 after just 7 minutes. The lads show how good they have become and we go into halftime with a 2-3 lead. They try to put us under pressure in the second half, but we quickly take over. Marien (Wilmots) decides the match in the 80th minute: 2-4. Savio scores a few minutes later, but we go home with an important win.

Our last one for today’s blog is against Anderlecht. They may have a lot of stars in their line-up, but they don’t even come close to a point. Eric yells, shouts, cries and swears, to no avail. They go do 2-1.

We are at the end of today’s blog, and this time there is no special message from the board. I would think so: we are a title contender also this year!

That’s it for today. How will we end the season? Will we battle Standard for the title? Or will there be a come-back from Club Brugge or Anderlecht? Stay tuned and have great weekends all!

Tot volgende week!

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