For the last time of this very successful season, our Kemphans may set the Kuipje on fire once more. A repeat of the match against the Rouches: no one will complain about that. The match will be followed by a supporters’ ball, where the Kemphaan 2023 will also be announced.
In the end, 5 players were still eligible for the Kemphaan of the season, although we should add that the entire group did it all together. Football is a team sport, without your fellow players you cannot reach the top.
Who are those five?
- Sinan Bolat: one of the most experienced players in our core. With his 10 clean-sheets, a key pawn in the side. Relinquishes his place to Nick Gillekens in the last 3 games of the season. Just short of his personal record of 11 clean-sheets at Antwerp, which he achieved in the 17/18 and 18/19 seasons
- Maxim De Cuyper: our curler is super popular in the Kempen region. And what a season he has had. His goal participations – nota bene as a left-back – are immense. Nine goals and six assists with two games to go. Returns to Brugge in principle, but will probably play another European Championship for plaudits first.
- Mathias Fixelles: our all-round player, wherever you put him, he will play his game. Before New Year, he was a bench player a few times, but after the winter break he became an integral part of the starting eleven. Scored a phenomenal goal in Gent, maybe he will do it again in the home game. Invariably comes to the club with his mate Pietro Perdichizzi.
- Nicolas Madsen: Danish dynamite in our midfield. Another curly haired player who has totally made it with us. Sees the game well and always looks very calm, both on and off the pitch. He too has a carpool buddy: Tuur Dierckx.
- Nene “jaja” Dorgeles: totally decoloured during these Europe Play Offs. Before the departure of Lyle Foster he was a regular duo with him in our Kempen attacking line, but after Lyle’s departure – by the way the godfather of his newborn son – he ended up on the bench to break the game open after half-time, something he always did with a lot of enthusiasm. Top marksman in these Europe Play-offs.
Nacer Chadli is not in this list, but he will already receive an individual trophy on Saturday for his work over the past few years. The goal against Japan is still etched in everyone’s eyes. Nacer will play his 500th professional game – not counting internationals – on Saturday. Time to thank this icon of Belgian football for that. Despite the fact that Nacer has been through a lot of (international) waters, he fits perfectly into the picture of Kempen sobriety.
Coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck did receive a very nice gift from his board at New Year. On the last day of the winter mercato, they gave him Gift. In his debut match at Kuipje he scored 2 goals and 19 games later – all competitions combined – his tally stands at 20 goals. With figures like that, you have to be at the top of some ranking.
Gent ended up being the winner of these Europe Play Offs after only three match days. Whether it’s cold comfort for them, after narrowly missing out in the Champions group, we don’t know. But one thing is certain: European football is always a nice bonus. This season, they stranded there in the quarter-finals. West Ham United, one of the finalists, eliminated them then.
What Buffalo’s line-up will look like is one big question mark. Will Hein rotate and bring in players who have played less, now that he is sure of that European ticket The following 11 players featured most often in the starting eleven: Goalkeeper Paul Nardi, defenders Piatkowski, Okumu and Torunarigha, midfielders De Sart, Kums and Hong, flanks Samoise and Castro-Montes and strikers Orban and Cuypers. The latter two have combined to score 38 goals in the league so far. Last weekend against Cercle Brugge, Dane Hjulsager was on the pitch instead of Okumu, who had to miss the last 2 games due to injury.
Wesli De Cremer
The first match at Kuipje this season was under his guidance, and so will the last match. On matchday 29, he came to the Kempen once more for the match against Kortrijk.
KVC Westerlo – Cercle Brugge 2-0
KVC Westerlo – KV Kortrijk 3-1
In the past, we also saw him make four appearances at our ground:
KVC Westerlo – Beerschot 1-2
KVC Westerlo – OH Leuven 1-0
KVC Westerlo – Roeselare 4-0
KVC Westerlo – Tubize 1-1
With this match added, this will be his 16th encounter with the Kemphans and, together with OH Leuven, we are listed as the teams he has flown the most often.
Text and statistics: Peter Boons