A Belgian Story – The Road to World Cup 2006: Part 20 | @verbist_philip

Another hectic week of action on cm9798.co.uk concludes with our Saturday trip to Belgium. One of these days I will Google the translation of allemaal but until that time comes, here’s Philip.

Hallo allemaal!

Finally it’s weekend again! I am here to get it started with the latest of the Beveren Boys. Last week we took a fantastic start. After 10 matches, Club Brugge is the only team that manages to stay close. Standard and Anderlecht are already respectively 6 and 7 points behind. We are in the CL Group Stage for the third consecutive time, and the draw has put us in a group where everybody is a favourite and the form of the day will decide who qualifies. We’re only third so far, but everything is still possible.

If you are a regular of the blog, you know that we took over from Georges Leekens at the start of the season. During his prime he was a more than decent defender, as Belgium’s head coach he didn’t do all too well. We took over with 3 qualifying matches left to play for Euro 2004. We won the first two, but I am afraid it’s a lost cause.

Before we kick off, let’s take a look at our expiring contracts. Hmm, that’s a bigger number than I thought. Let’s issue a few extensions already so that we don’t have to deal with all of them at the end of the season. Abeels (Nilis) wants to move to a bigger club and refuses. Luckily a few key players like Goosens (Scifo) and Van Meir (Preud’homme) accept our offer.

Let’s get started! We continue where we left off last week and send Charleroi back home with 0 points. Hold on. It seems I am getting a bit overconfident here. I started writing that sentence after a dominant first half. In the second half our engine sputters, we concede a goal and the match finishes in a 1-1 draw. They are going home with 1 point instead.

Against Kortrijk the lads pay better attention and we give them no chance for a second-half come back: 1-4.

We travel to Glasgow and our goal is simple, yet very difficult: we need a win if we want to qualify. We take a blitz-start and are 2-0 ahead in no time. Soon after we lose Van Meir (Preud’homme) to injury and Dhont (De Wilde) comes in. Making your debut at Ibrox isn’t exactly easy. However his biggest concern is to get no cold. Our defence is rock-solid and we don’t give away a single shot between the posts. We return home with 3 important points. Galatasaray loses as well and we take the lead in the group.

We will miss Van Meir (Preud’homme) for the next weeks, so we will have to rely on Dhont (De Wilde) in goal. He only has been a back-up so far, so how matured is he already? Harelbeke is on a relegation spot at the moment and is the perfect opponent for his first full match. There is not a lot of action required from him, but he’s there when he has to. Good start.

Abeels (Nilis) realizes we have now a decent chance for the CL Quarter Final and decides to stay. I am glad, but will you sign first this very generous contract extension? Good boy.

Belgium is next and we travel to Armenia for our final qualification match. The lads get the job done, but unfortunately it turns out not to be enough. Despite our 9/9 Belgium lost too many points early in the campaign. When I look at final standings, we are 3 points short in order to be one of the best runners-up. It’s a pity, but our ultimate goal is the 2006 WC.

Dhont (De Wilde) makes a few silly mistakes and after 85 minutes it’s only 3-3 against our neighbours of Lokeren. Our home crowd isn’t at all satisfied with a draw at home against our rivals and they start screaming even louder. Marien inherited the fighting spirit of Wilmots and leads us to victory in the final minutes: 6-3.

The lads walk all over Galatasaray and the win brings us in pole position for advancing to the Quarter Finals.

Against RWDM we concede again 3 goals. It’s obvious Dhont (De Wilde) needs time to mature. No pressure my friend, but you have to do that as quick as you can, we won’t always score 5 or 6 goals.

Now that we won’t travel to Italy for Euro 2004, all that is left for Belgium this season are a few friendlies. Inspired by the recent posts of @kingoftherooks we are as of now going for an all-Beveren squad!

Before we travel to Belgrade, Beerschot is a nice appetiser.

We have several suspensions and injuries, still the mood and atmosphere on the plane to Belgrade is fantastic. Albert (Czerniatynski) makes his debut and scores. All we need is a point, and the team succeeds! We draw last year winners Borussia MGB in the Quarter Final.

Most friendlies are only good to boost statistics. Our first two however will give us an indication of how good we already are: we host first France and then Italy. And that’s better than I would have imagined! Revault has no idea what’s happening and gets beaten 5 times.

Cup time! Dhont (De Wilde) is not paying attention and we concede an early goal. We shoot all over the place, except between the posts. The lads choose a very bad time for having an off-day. Our first loss this season on national level means a first-round exit in the Belgian Cup. Damn!

We recover Van Meir (Preud’homme) and we face them again a few days later in the league. We get our revenge, but it tastes bittersweet.

On the bus ride back home I receive a phone call. It’s a Dutch number. I almost fall out of the chair when I am offered the Ajax job. Again. For the 2nd time this season. Dear God, refusing them twice hurts even more. Their mind is set on a Belgian coach and they go for Broos instead.

It looks like an uneventful winter until this offer comes in. I hesitate for a moment as he is a club legend. But we’re all-regen now, so there is no longer a place for him in the line-up. He accepts the offer and with that our last original player leaves the team. The supporters feel gutted, sorry, that’s the way it goes people. Best of luck Bart!

We resume the action again at Mechelen. We continue where we left off before the winter break and grab the 3 points. This time I only start writing when the match is over.

Next up is Club Brugge. They’re a tough opponent, but we remain undefeated.

I didn’t realise the draw for the 2006 WC qualifying campaign would come that soon. I rush to the draw and I am just in time when Belgium is taken out of the urn. Portugal is the group favourite. We stand a chance, but Ukraine shouldn’t be underestimated.

At Sclessin we suffer our first defeat in the league. It’s also the first time this season we get dominated by the opposing squad.

We recover quickly and win our last 2 matches for today’s blog.

And that’s it for today! Let’s have a look at the standings. Similar to last season, it looks like we will battle Standard for the title.

Will we make it 3-in-a-row? Do we have a chance against Borussia MGB? We’ll find out next week. I wish you all wonderful weekends!

Tot volgende week!

Leave a Reply