Cercle Brugge – KVC Westerlo

For the first match of the year, we make a trip to the Jan Breydel Stadium, where we will battle the Cercle green blacks. It promises to be another exciting game between 2 teams who have nestled themselves in the first half of the standings and who both want to go flat out for the coveted PO 2 ticket.

KVC Westerlo

The year 2022 will go down in the annals as a good year for our club. We started with a victory over RWDM – in hindsight a very important one – and ended with a handsome draw against Antwerp. Kuipje was again often the-place-to-be, as of the 16 games played with commitment, we won no less than nine and played a draw three times. Deinze (0-3), Eupen (0-1), STVV (2-3) and Genk (0-1) took the full spoils. In away-games, it was usually all or nothing. Only once did we end in a draw – against Union (1-1), the rest of the games were either won (7x) or lost (9x).

Against Antwerp, our Kemphans delivered a real propaganda match. Everyone was ecstatic with the game delivered and the neutral spectator was the winner of the day. The end of the match proved to be just too much. Our main sponsor glued and fixed everything but between minute 86 and 88, however, the Antwerp players found a miniscule spot that still needed to be treated with the result that we had to take 2 more goals. Afterwards, Mark van Bommel appeared to have seen a very different game to our own coach Jonas De Roeck. Van Bommel responded at the press conference that the home team had stolen a point… strange quirk in the head of the otherwise sympathetic Northern neighbour.

That the places on the pitch are getting expensive, Rubin Seigers will also have known. The Limburger is a regular, was never replaced, but this time had to be satisfied with a seat in the stands. This leaves only three players in our core who have been in the starting line-up every time – if they were fit: Sinan Bolat, Maxim De Cuyper and Nacer Chadli. Lukas Van Eenoo then made his reappearance after several months of injury. Finally the song ” ooooh Lukas Van Eenoooo” sounded again. Our kapi is clearly still popular with our local fans.

KSV Cercle Brugge

We celebrated our return to the highest league with a home game against the green blacks from West Flanders. Then still under the leadership of Austrian Thalhammer. In September, however, he was the second coach of this season to be dismissed after disappointing results. His assistant, Bosnian Austrian Miron Muslic, was appointed to take the club to a better level.  We can say that this has certainly succeeded. He started immediately with a spectacular victory at the Ghelamco Arena (3-4). This was followed by victories against Eupen (5-1), Seraing (0-1), Charleroi (4-1), OH Leuven (2-1) and Sint-Truiden (1-2). He drew at Kortrijk and Mechelen – 1-1 each time – and the only defeat was against Union (2-1). He used a new playing system (3-5-2) and almost always used the same 11 names. In goal, he opts for Polish goalkeeper Radoslaw Majecki – in the pecking order of his country’s national goalkeepers, in place 4. The trio in defence are Boris Popovic – who in the match at the Kuipje was allowed to shower after only half an hour – Jesper Daland and youngster Christiaan Ravych, who made the switch to the neighbours after training at Club Brugge. Another trio populated the midfield. Captain and youth product Charles Vanhoutte, the small Portuguese (1m68) Leonardo Lopes and the number 10: Dino Hotic. In attack, we find Japanese Ayase Ueda – in his country’s core at the last World Cup in Qatar and Togolese Kévin Denkey.  The running work on the flanks is provided by 2 youth products: Thibo Somers and Olivier Deman.

In those 9 games under Muslic, both Ueda and Denkey scored 5x, the latter also delivered 4 assists and Hotic (3 goals – 1 assist) and Lopes (3 assists) were also involved in the goal total. Popovic (2) and Yann Gboho (2 goals and 1 assist) also participated in goal participation. Yann Gboho, by the way, is the nephew of Ambroise, who featured on the Westel fields between 2018 and 2021.

Wesli De Cremer

Was also the referee at the Kuipje, during the mutual duel on matchday 1. Then we also got him at the Bosuil against Antwerp this season. On his personal list, by the way, our Kemphans are in second place. No less than 13 times he whistled a match of ours, and 7 times we left the field without a point. What’s more: we never won an away game under his guidance. The 30-year-old Flemish-Brabander is someone who hardly brings out his coloured cards for us, though. 24 yellow cards and 1 yellow-red in 13 matches is a very low average. Our opponent is doing slightly better in terms of statistics. 3 wins, 1 draw, but also 5 defeats.

Text and statistics: Peter Boons