Here’s a rundown of this week’s Cofidis Cup action in Belgium. The Cup rarely gets people excited but I have afeeling this year could be a vintage one. And don’t ask me why I think that. In the 16 matches, there were 13 winners from the First Division and they were joined by three from the Second: Westerlo, Sint Truiden and Oostende. One problem the competition has is that the top division clubs are protected – so they don’t play each other – in the first round. If they changed that, the fans of most clubs might be happier.
Standard go through in extremis
Tuesday’s early game was a cracker. Mouscron-Peruwelz (known as RMP, a club that rose from the ashes of Excelsior Mouscron) welcomed Standard Liege. RMP are 51% owned by Lille – the clubs are very close geographically – and have basically become a feeder club for Eden Hazard’s previous home. They are also favourites for promotion to the Jupiler League and have some talented young players. RMP quickly took the lead on Tuesday and it got much worse for Standard when teenage striker Michy Batshuayi – just back in the side – was somewhat harshly dismissed. The second half is best forgotten, but Les Rouches were awarded a penalty in the 90th minute and Astrit Ajdarevic scored the equaliser. The ex-Liverpool youth player later said he never misses.
By this time the young Mouscron players were looking exhausted – despite facing 10 men – and it got worse when Standard went ahead in extra time though an own-goal. Nevertheless, RMP equalised from the penalty spot after a foul by Regis Goreux. Then, when fans were thinking of a penalty shoot-out, Jelle Van Damme went upfield again and headed the winner from an Ajdarevic centre. So Standard went through at the death and their President felt their fighting qualities could still give them a chance of the title – despite Liege losing their last three league games!
But the fun didn’t end there. A TV journalist asked Standard coach Ron Jans if he’d felt that this could have been his last game in charge, when they were losing in the 90th minute. At that stage, Jans ended the interview; enter Van Damme who had heard the question and told the journalist that he better not ask that type of question again. And Jelle is a big guy!
Lots of goals in the other games but Van den Brom’s not smiling
Top scorers were Gent who put eight past third division Bocholt. Two goals each for Ibrahima Conte, ‘Meli’ and Mamoutou N’Diaye. Highly-rated 17 year-old Benito Raman also got on the score sheet.
KV Mechelen – in better form recently – scored six against third division Bertrix. David Destorme scored after one minute – to end the suspense – and there were two for another Van Damme, Joachim, and for Danish substitute Thomas Enevoldsen. Racing Genk also hit their opponents for six; in this case it was Union St Gilloise, once the top club in Belgium. Genk fielded a reserve side except for Jelle Vossen, who inevitably scored for the visitors.
Charleroi went to third division Deinze and came away with a 4-2 victory. The Carolos were much-changed and had to equalise twice before finally running out victors in extra time. Ziguy Badibanga, on loan from Anderlecht, scored after coming on after an hour – his third goal in three matches.
Elsewhere, Club Brugge, Waasland-Beveren, Lokeren, Mons and Cercle Brugge also scored three times against lower level opposition. For Mons, last year’s league leading scorer Jeremy Perbet hit a hat-trick in his first start of the season.
Zulte-Waregem and Kortrijk scraped through while Lierse, Leuven and Beerschot said goodbye to cup glory for this year.
For the lower league victors, Bart Goor (soon to be 40) scored for Westerlo in the defeat of Lierse, Reza (soon to join Standard) was on target for Sint Truiden as they beat Beerschot after a penalty shoot-out and Oostende had a good win over Leuven.
Finally, John Van den Brom fielded a bunch of reserves for Anderlecht and then declared that they had not succeeded in making in job harder in future weeks. Against second division leaders Boussu Dour, the only Anderlecht player to really enhance his reputation was reserve keeper Thomas Kaminski. Massimo Bruno came on after an hour and broke the deadlock almost immediately. Playing just behind the “striker” Tom De Sutter, Bruno looked a real prospect for the future. Dennis Praet scored a second goal and Anderlecht – or rather Van den Brom – breathed more easily.
Waasland-Beveren – Oostende
Gent – Lokeren
Zulte-Waregem – Charleroi
Club Brugge – Cercle Brugge
Anderlecht – KV Mechelen
Kortrijk – Mons