A Belgian Story – The Road to World Cup 2006: Part 22 | @verbist_philip

Do you think Saturday feels left out at Easter? Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday. Regular old Saturday. Luckily for us we have Philip to make it special. Enjoy!

Hallo allemaal!

Am I glad it’s Saturday again. It’s not that the days are so much different from one another when your children are at home, but at least on Saturday I am making my weekly trip to the Freethiel. Are you coming along?

It’s the start of Season 8 and for Belgium it will be a crucial season. We play 6 of our 8 qualifying matches for the 2006 WC, including both of our matches against current European Champions Portugal. At the end of the season we should have an idea how realistic the first part of our ultimate goal is: qualifying!

A positive side effect of being head coach of Belgium, is that the game tells you of important retirements. Luis, tell your regen he will receive an offer very soon.

Hmm, no sign or notification for Marc Degryse. Is he still around? Ah, no, there he is as well. Always funny when the game doesn’t give a first name to a regen. I told you earlier how I look for regens using the free transfer option (when your players database is sorted on ability). At the very beginning of a new season, try sorting players like you see below: the search engine will show the players on ability regardless whether they are free or not. Quite nice, isn’t it? Credit goes to @TeddyBertin who gave me the tip.

At the end of last season, Guus Hiddink retired after a disappointing season with Anderlecht. They appoint quite an unexpected successor.

Soon after the new regens join the squad. Johnny Coenegrachts is the regen of Luis Oliveira, who has the highest ability of all Belgian players. Oliveira was born in Brazil and came to Belgium at a very young age. He later took the Belgian citizenship and earned in total 31 caps for the Belgian Red Devils. He started at Anderlecht, but spent the remainder of his career in Italy. He is most famous for his spells at Cagliari and Fiorentina, where he partnered up with Gabriel Batistuta.

Our other top regen is ‘No First Name’ Daelmans, regen of Marc Degryse. He started at Club Brugge, but his most successful period in Belgium was with Anderlecht. With Degryse, Nilis & Oliveira in their ranks, Anderlecht dominated Belgian football in the early 90s. In England he is most well-known for his 1 year at Sheffield Wednesday.

With both of them arriving to the squad, I now have all regens I had in mind at the start of the blog. Oh, almost forgot, I also signed a third regen: Bert Plovie, regen of Ronald Foguenne. An unexpected, but nice addition as back-up left wing back.

Hmm, despite our quarter final of last year, we are not a seeded team in the Champions League this season. We don’t mind going to Moscow once again, we have good memories there.

We start the season with the Super Cup against Club Brugge. Englebert (Vervoort) is sent off early in the game and on top of that De Wilde (Van Der Elst) makes a stupid mistake inside the box. Savio smiles brightly and accepts the present. No third Super Cup this year!

A few days later we travel to Moscow. We make some good memories again and the match will be remembered as the “Abeels (Nilis) show”. He is on fire and scores 4 times.

We start the regular season with a solid win at Harelbeke.

No matter how good Bistrussu (Verschelde) was the last few seasons, this year I want to further develop Goor (Van Kets). If he keeps scoring like that, he is keeping his place in the line-up.

Year after year we struggle at Sclessin. They hate our guts and take revenge for losing the title the past 2 seasons.

It’s history repeating and the lads put up again a terrible performance in the return match against Moscow. The draw puts us in Group B, also known as the Group of Death.

I give the lads a lecture and tell them once more they owe it to the supporters to give their very best during home games. Did they finally get the message? Time will tell. At least they put up a good performance against Mechelen.

With 2 red cards in the first half it’s mission impossible for Lierse. But they do put up a fight and Tishkov saves their honour in the final minutes of the game.

With 3 new regens coming in this season, we’re now having 30 lads in the squad. That’s a bit too much and I will accept all reasonable offers on redundant players. Van der Borght (Borkelmans) is one of those. Several teams make an offer, he chooses Vicenza.

Allright, our path towards WC 2006 starts now!! And we take a good start with an easy victory in Budapest.

Against Anderlecht the lads play at a very high level. We get 0-1 behind, but we dominate the entire match. Van Acker (Staelens) is excelling at the right wing back. It’s doesn’t happen too often that a wing back gets a perfect score of 10.

Can we continue at the same level in our first CL Group Stage match against Inter? I don’t have high hopes for qualifying, but we couldn’t have taken a better start. A 4-0 thrashing!

In the meantime we continue trimming the squad. Also Laevers (Van Der Linden) chooses a foreign adventure.

Club Brugge proves they are a solid team. Van Meir (Preud’homme) is a bit too enthusiastic and is sent off to an early shower. Houlmont blasts the penalty wide and 10 minutes later it seems we’re going to walk away with the win. Houlmont however makes up for his mistake and the match ends in a fitting 1-1 draw.

Let’s get some additional confidence before we travel to Spain.

Against Real Madrid we take the lead, but cannot hold on to it. The lads put up a decent performance and if we would have been a bit more efficient, a draw would have been possible.

I realise there is a lot of “would” in my last sentence, so let’s chop down the trees.

After that the lads travel to Brussels to prepare for Belgium’s crucial game against Portugal. Their European Championship title for sure wasn’t an accident. I could blame Appels (Grun), but the truth is they are simply the better team. This hurts.

The lads have difficulties motivating themselves after the loss. Nevertheless they play a good match against Kortrijk and don’t give away a single shot on goal. Nice work.

For our last match in today’s blog we travel to Amsterdam. Marien (Wilmots) is suspended and Daelmans (Degryse) plays his first match. And we go out with a bang! Is this the best match we have ever played? I believe so!

Let’s have a look at the standings before we close. In the league it’s probably no surprise that once again Standard will be our main rival for the title. Halfway in the Group of Death we’re in an excellent 2nd position.

And how about Belgium? It’s still early and all to play for, but I should not underestimate Macedonia & Ukraine.

That’s it for today! I wish you all wonderful weekends!

Tot volgende week!

Leave a Reply