I’ve decided to blog random bits of history, whether it be about the Belgian Pro League, the second tier, European competition or The Belgian Cup (Beker van Belgie). The reason I’ve thought up this segment is not only to educate myself about the past, but to anyone who reads this, if anyone actually does, and to see that Belgian football isn’t about 1 or 2 teams, or the odd great player produced quite regularly actually, and that teams in the past competed and that the impossible is sometimes possible.
This edition involves the reigning cup winners from this weekend, Zulte Waregem, and how they won their first trophy eleven years ago!
Last time around, their run to the final was longer and tough to be honest, against a Mouscron side who’s run was a bit more simpler. For starters, Zulte began their run against the most successful team in competition history, Club Brugge, and defeated them with a 2-1 win at home. The next round was slightly easier, on paper, against division 2 team Verbroedering Geel but progressing with a less than convincing 1-0 win away. Then there were two 2 legged matches against Westerlo and Standard, defeating the former 4-3 on aggregate and then the latter 2-2, progressing on away goals.
Zulte’s opponent’s in the final, Mouscron, had an easier run in my opinion, and definitely made the most of it. In the 6th round they hosted Torhat 1992 KM and disposed of them with a 2-1 victory. The next round was also a home tie against second division RAEC Mons, in which the top flight side came out on top 2-1 again, setting up a 2 legged quarter final against Beveren in which they won 2-0 on aggregate, and then overcoming Charleroi in the semi final 2-1 on aggregate to set the final up.
With this being Zulte Waregem’s first final and Mouscron’s second, returning 4 years after their first in which they lost to Club Brugge 3-1, there was going to definitely be a new name on the trophy! By league position, you’d think Waregem would come out on top with 8 places separating them so confidence would be high, but in a cup final, form sometimes goes out of the window.
But in this case, it would’ve seemed it meant a bit more as only 11 minutes in centre half Stefan Leleu netted to set Zulte on there way. And as the game progressed, things seemed to be going Zulte Waregem’s way judging by the scoreline, then again it only takes a second to score a goal, and in the 62nd, that’s what Mouscron did to spice things up. Bosnian striker Adnan Custovic levelled the final, making the match interesting going into the last half hour and setting up a real climax.
With stoppage time looming, like this season, things were going into stoppage time and I’m sure fans were either glued to their seat or making plans for extra time. Those who may have thought about refreshments however will have regretted their decision, as current KV Mechelen striker Tim Matthys popped up with a winner one minute into stoppage time, sending the fans into raptures and tears of joy.
Obviously with cup competitions and a lucky draw, Zulte Waregem may have thought they wouldn’t have to wait 11 years until they got their hands on the trophy again, but I’m sure the wait was well worth it. On the other hand, Mouscron were just ecstatic to be a top flight team again, let alone trophy success.