Preview KVC Westerlo – R. Antwerp FC
Thursday is the day again: The Croky Cup. We play the sixteenth finals against the tribal number 1: Royal Antwerp FC. It promises to be a fun game, as both teams are in a good flow. Although it is always a matter of guessing who will start the match. Because Cup competitions are always about giving “other” guys a chance. Nevertheless, this competition remains the shortest route to glory and European soccer. Remember 2001 I would say. Hopefully this match will be a propaganda for soccer in general and our Kemphans can achieve a nice result. Remember: extensions and penalty kicks are also possible.
The Antwerp team started the season dramatically. Two defeats in a row (KV Mechelen 3-2 and Kortrijk 0-1) meant a missed start for the Great Old. Brian Priske’s men then experienced a very nice flare-up with 8 games without defeat. Thus, they climbed to third place in the rankings. Partly thanks to the accuracy of the Swiss striker Michaël Frey. He has already scored 12 league goals. The other 9 were scored by 7 different players: Benson (3), Gerkens – Verstraete – De Laet – Fischer – Miyoshi and Engels each accounted for 1 goal. As mentioned earlier, we don’t expect them to kick off with the “best” eleven. But anyone who is a bit familiar with Belgian soccer will have come across the following names at some point, knowing that these eleven did NOT start last Sunday: Goalkeeper De Wolf, defenders Bataille – Seck – Dessoleil – Buta and Quirynen, midfielders Haroun, Dwomoh and Nill De Pauw and attackers Eggestein and Samatta. We are curious which eleven Brian Priske will conjure out of his hat. By the way one name I have not put in the list yet: RAJA NAINGGOLAN. The top acquisition of this summer. The 33-year-old from Antwerp left our country at a very young age (16) to start working in Italy. Piacenza, Cagliari, AS Roma and Internazionale came his way. After 17 years it was time to come back to his homeland and he started working at Den Bosuil. The past 2 games he was not in the match selection.
Formation previous match R.Antwerp FC – Club Brugge (1-1): Butez, De Laet, Engels, Almeida, Vines, Verstraete (45′ Dwomoh), Yusuf, Benson (85’Seck), Gerkens, Balikwisha(71′ Samatta)and Frey (82’Eggestein)
Will our coach also rotate? The question that every Kemphaan asks himself. Sunday we have an important game against Deinze. Last Sunday, we scored a well-deserved victory against Virton. So now we are already 9 league games and 1 cup game without defeat. If we get a point in Deinze on Sunday, we will equal Beerschot’s record of 10 consecutive league games without defeat. Seven players were drafted in every game from the start: Goalkeeper David Jensen, defenders Rubin Seigers and Pietro Perdichizzi, midfielders Lukas Van Eenoo, Jan Bernat and Maxim De Cuyper and striker Kyan Vaesen. The remaining 4 places were mostly filled by Jordanov, Mabea, Van den Keybus and Dierckx. Tuur will of course not be there – he will have his operation on Tuesday and here too we expect maybe some other guys to get a chance to play, and then we’re thinking of the guys who have had less of a chance the last few weeks: goalkeeper Van Langendonck, defenders Seydoux, Soumah and Yameogo, midfielders N’Diaye, Paulet and Güctekin and strikers Gouré and Noviello. No matter who comes to the kickoff, we are sure that everyone will give their 200%.
In this century, both clubs won the cup once. For Antwerp this was in 2020 (win against Club Brugge 1-0) and we won that beautiful trophy 20 years ago after winning against Lommel (1-0). Ten years later we were in the final again, but then we lost against Standard (0-2). Last year we were eliminated in the sixteenth finals on the unplayable pitch in Charleroi (1-0) and Antwerp disappeared from the scene one round later against Club Brugge (3-1). The last time we played against each other was also for the Cup of Belgium. On 2 December 2015, we played a 1-1 draw at Het Kuipje here and managed to win the penalty shootout, thanks in part to a stellar performance by our goalkeeper Koen Van Langendonck, who managed to turn away both Colpaert’s and Binst’s penalty kicks.
Jasper Vergoote is going to try to lead this match in the right direction. Jasper is 29 years old and he made his debut in professional soccer 4 years ago. That day he was the referee for R.Union SG against KVC Westerlo (3-0). After that we met him six more times. The interim balance is 2x wins, 1x draw and 4 defeats. Den Antwaarp even had him as a match leader only once. Around this time last year, he refereed the derby against Beerschot, won 3-2 by red-white.
Westerlo has NEVER lost to Antwerp in its 8 previous encounters at Het Kuipje (6 wins and 2 draws). Even better: they only lost twice in 15 mutual encounters (in 2003 and 2014). That we have been unbeaten at home for almost one year. The last time was on 31/10/2020 against Union. Then we went down 1-4. After that we won ten times and played draw seven times. Have 6 players in our core who have won a cup before: Mamoutou N’Diaye in 2010 with AA Gent, Kristof Van Hout in 2011 and 2013 with Standard and Genk respectively, Tuur Dierckx in 2015 with Club Brugge, Christoffer Remmer in 2015 and 2016 with FC Copenhagen, Igor Vetokele in 2017 with Zulte Waregem and Edi Jordanov in 2017 and 2019 with F91 Dudelange. There are 3 players running around in our core with a red-white past? N’Diaye and Perdichizzi played for Antwerp in 2015-2016 and 1 year later Tuur Dierckx also went to play there.
Our coach Jonas De Roeck his professional career started (1998) and ended at Antwerp (2015). He eventually played 78 games in which he managed to score twice. Our scout Francesco Carratta in 2008 also played 16 games for tribal number 1. Finally, our greenkeeper has an abo at the oldest club in the country. Our former captain Maxime Biset is now set-piece coach at the opposing team. He ended his playing career this summer after playing a whopping 103 games for our club.
Statistics and text: Peter Boons