Let us start this time with an inspiring saying for our Kemphanen: if you hesitate, your fear grows. When you dare, your courage grows. When you want, you seek opportunities. And of course the will is there. Our coach will make sure of that and the full house who will be behind our boys in large numbers to shout them to victory against national Champions League participant Royal Antwerp FC, who by the way have never come to win at the Kuipje.

KVC Westerlo

At the end of the mercato, our club made a few more efforts to strengthen the defensive compartment. At the top of that list, Sergiy Sydorchuk stands out. The captain of Dynamo Kyiv already has a lot of (European) matches on his CV: no fewer than 327 times he played in a match of this Ukrainian top club, add 71 matches of his mother club Metalurg Zaporizhya and you are at the impressive number of 398 professional matches in club context. He has also been a regular with the national team since that 9 October 2014, when he made his debut as a substitute, in a match against Belarus and managed to score his first goal for the national team in injury time.

The two other new names we could welcome to the Kuip are Emin Bayram and Dogucan Haspolat. The former is a 20-year-old central defender, who plays alongside Ravil Tagir at Turkey U21. Emin is on loan from Turkish national champions Galatasaray.

Haspolat – a defensive midfielder – then again comes over from Trabzonspor. In his youth years, he only knew one club: Excelsior Rotterdam, where he was taken away by Kasimpasa in the winter of 2020. A year and a half later, he was in turn taken away from there by then Turkish national champions Trabzonspor, only to opt for a club from the Low Countries again after 29 appearances, with one goal and one assist.

As such, coach Jonas De Roeck – who donned his football boots for the first time at a club (Rochus Deurne) barely 3km from the Bosuilstadion – has 29 players at his disposal, as Fernand Goure (Dunajska Strada), Jan Bernat (Spartak Trnava) and Muhammed Gümüskaya (Samsunspor) were rented out until the end of the season in the meantime.

Royal Antwerp FC

The centenarians had an impressive campaign last season, with the double as their reward. Surely, you all remember that they barely grew up to the top club they are today in just six years. In 2016/2017, the then Wim De Decker managed to bring them back to the First Division after they had played 12 years in Second Division.

Still extremely handsome what they have already achieved and in what a beautiful stadium they now play in. By the way, on Wednesday they may take a city trip to Barcelona and celebrate their debut in the Champions League. Superhero MegaToby is unlikely to be there on Friday, rehabilitating from his shoulder injury sustained in the Athens game. Toby is betting everything on Barcelona’s return, you’d settle for less.

The Great Old had a quiet end to the summer mercato. They only swapped left-backs with Ajax. Avila out and Owen Wijndal – already 17 selections for the Dutch national team anyway – in. The central defensive duo will most likely be occupied by a youngster in his twenties, Zeno Van Den Bosch and French teenager Soumaïla Coulibaly, who came over from Dortmund this summer and before that could be found in PSG’s youth academy. Young Devils duo Arthur Vermeeren and Mandela Keita will act as hoovers. Vermeeren took his first football steps in the first team last season and has evolved by one hair from a market value of 400 thousand euros to 17 million euros! Keita, in turn, is worth €7 million. Add to that the names of Butez – 73 cleansheets in 218 games – De Laet, Bataille, Yusuf, Balikwisha, Muja, Ondrejka and the trio of Northern neighbours: Janssen, Ekkelenkamp and Kerk and you know we are up against a good team. But let’s keep the tradition alive: tribe number 1 has never driven towards the Bosuil Stadium with three points.


  • Lothar D’Hondt
  • 29 years old
  • Affiliated to SC Dikkelvenne
  • Refereeing since 2013
  • First Division debut: 11 August 2018 (STVV vs Lokeren)
  • 3 matches in JPL in this season (Cercle Brugge vs Charleroi; Eupen vs Club Brugge and Anderlecht vs Charleroi)
    • Matches KVC Westerlo: 8 (3x wins, 2x draws and 3 defeats)
      • Matches at the Kuipje: 6 (2x wins, 2x draws and 2 defeats)
    • Matches Antwerp: 15 (10x win, 1x draw and 4 defeats)

Text and statistics: Peter Boons