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.
With European football back this week, 2 teams from Belgium will fight for success tomorrow and hopefully will progress further in Europe’s second trophy. One of those teams has been successful before on the European stage, and the other could’ve been glorious… but in another guise. Waterschei Thor could’ve dreamed the impossible dream 34 years ago by winning the UEFA Cup Winners Cup, but were defeated by Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen in the semi finals.
For Waterschei, their tournament began in mid September with an emphatic 7-1 home win over Luxembourg side Red Boys Differdange. Hardly a glamour tie but a match that needed to be won nonetheless. Goals from Gudmundsson (x2), Berger (x2), Janssen, Vliegen and Coninx sealed the win and basically booked their place into the next round. Di Domenico scored an 80th minute consolation for the visitors which was their only highlight in that seasons competition. The second leg already over before it begun was a formality, with Pier Janssen scoring the only goal of the game in a match that simply had to be played.
Going into the next round, the test got slightly tougher as Thor drew B. 93 of Denmark. I say it was slightly tougher as the aggregate score was almost the same really. The first leg being away this time may have been tougher, but with second half goals from Gudmundsson and P. Janssen (again) helped the Belgians take a 2 goal lead back home. Waterschei wrapped the tie up quite easily. Gudmundsson and Janssen scored again, with Plessers fitting a penalty in between to make the scoreline 3-0 at half time. Vliegen made it 4 just after the hour to make it 6-0 on aggregate until another late consolation from Dalsborg made it 4-1 on the night!
With the tournament being comfortable so far, surely sterner competition was around the corner, and that came in the form of Paris St Germain. Today’s current French champions showed their quality back then, winning the first leg 2-0 at home. Goals either side of the break by Fernandez and Pilorget may have looked to seal the tie and end Thor’s competition there and then. They hadn’t had a set back like this through the competition and would have to show real character to progress.
An early goal would help if there was any chance of progression, and that didn’t come, but thankfully a first half goal did through Icelander Lárus Gudmundsson just before the half hour. With 45 minutes to save their European campaign, a strong willed second half performance was needed. A second goal came through Janssen…Roland Janssen this time, levelling up the tie and took it to extra time. Thankfully for the Belgians, they stole the win in extra time through, who else, Pier Janssen!
With a memorable comeback, you’d think Waterschei were rewarded through drawing Scottish preliminary qualifiers Aberdeen in the semi finals. But unfortunately, that was not the case in terms of performance and result. Aberdeen turned on the style and destroyed Thor 5-1 in Scotland. Nothing went well as Waterschei were 2-0 down within 5 minutes! McGhee made it 3-0, with Weir making it 4 two minutes later, ending the tie essentially. Gudmundsson pulled a goal back, but that meant nothing as Aberdeen booked their place in the final with McGhee wrapping up the scoring to make it 5-1.
An unbelievable performance at home would have to happen, but a consolation from Voordeckers was all the Belgians got midway through the second half. There was some respect brought back through victory, but a 5-2 aggregate scoreline was all they got. Aberdeen went on to defeat Spanish giants Real Madrid in the final.
The point of this blog is that if Waterschei Thor could reach the semi final, KRC Genk, who were born through the merging with KFC Winterslag, could possibly achieve the same. And why not? If they turn it on like they did against Gent, then Celta Vigo have got a game on their hands. And who knows, they may just go one better…?