Posted in Uncategorized

KV Oostende Have Made It! 

In the final game of the season, KRC Genk travelled to KV Oostende in a match where winner takes all. A win meant Europa League football next season, which brings in better players and the possibility of more money! 

This match looked even to me on form. Even though Genk seemed unstoppable in their play off group, I tried not to be blinded by that and tried to think of it as being more even. The thing is…I was wrong. And not wrong in Genk’s favour. Oostende were very good and too good for De Smurfen in the end.

This was proven in the first half where Joseph Akpala opened the scoring with some help from Franck Berrier with an assist. And with that goal, Oostende saw blood and struck again through the experienced Czech David Rozenhal. With the score 2-0 I thought just defend and see the game out with 45 minutes between them and European football.

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However, Siebe Schrivers stroked home a penalty to halve the deficit just before the break, changing both managers team talks in the process and maybe, willing Genk back into the game! 

Stuivenberg decided to swap Malinovskiy for Heynan in a bid to go more attacking possibly? But just 6 minutes into the second half, sloppy play from Genk led to a breakaway by Oostende where Musona hit the bar! With the ball still in play, Oostende picked up the loose ball where a deflected cross led to a tap in for Andile Jali. It looked like 3-1…game over…

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The thing is thereafter, Oostende remained professional and looked likeliest to grab a fourth with plenty of time to play. And to be honest, the season the ‘seasiders’ have had with an heroic cup run AND finishing 4th, Europa League is well deserved over their 40+ game league season. And their fans deserve it too. The manager Yves Vanderhaeghe also extended his stay at the Versluys Arena til 2020 too so happy times for now on the east coast.

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Genk have to go away and lick their wounds. The worry that Samatta and Pozuelo may be wanting European football could be a concern, amongst others maybe moving on. That’s a concern for the manager, but if they strengthen appropriately, a real push for the top 6 is definitely a possibility with the club’s support and stature, making this season a small blip with many highlights on top.

Congratulations Oostende!

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Posted in Matches in Brief

UEL Showdown! KV Oostende vs KRC Genk

Once again, not one of my finest titles for a blog post, but I’ll recover…one day! Anyway, to the business at hand. Genk travel all the way East to the Belgian coast to play Oostende who’ll hope a win may not only salvage their season of some disappointments, but maybe improve the smiles on fans faces. 

De Kustboys have all in all been very good this season. Finishing 4th in the play offs and finishing in the top 6 altogether is a fantastic achievement, especially with teams like Genk and Standard Liege finishing outside the top 6. And with the disappointment of losing on penalties to Zulte Waregem in the Croky Cup final, they’ll hope this final will go their way, especially as it’s at the Versluys Arena.

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But Genk have been steamrolling all those in front of them. Their only disappointment over the past 3 months was their​ elimination from the Europa League to Celta Vigo. I’ve actually been quite bored talking up Racing this year when it comes to their league form as they have been unbelievably impressive. Their play off group in comparison to Oostende, well, there’s no comparison as it was so easy, but then again, would Oostende have destroyed all those in front of them just like Genk did?

Saturday was probably Genk’s toughest test since the regular season, with De Limburg​ derby against Sint Truiden, which yet again, they eased to a 3-0 home win. But Genk have been so good they are joint top on points won this calendar year in the regular season with champions Anderlecht. What if they had that form from July-December it may be ‘Champions Genk’? 

With tonight’s opponents however, Genk haven’t won away at Oostende since 2004. De Kustboys were a different team completely then, not just because it’s thirteen years later, but in terms of stature and setup too. Oostende battered Genk 6-0 last time they met in the league, and Oostende also defeated Genk in the semi final of the cup this season too, which could prove a good omen for the hosts, even though De Smurfen just seem impregnable right now in every situation.

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The thing which may hinder chances for Oostende is that Nany Dimata could be out injured for the match. The youngster has been superb and won the best young player of the season. Along with him missing, the team haven’t played for 9 days, with their last match being away at Anderlecht in a 3-2 defeat. They’ve had to stew on that for a while with no opportunities to bounce back. But the rest may have been needed in the build up to a match which may make this season an historic one!

A long season in Belgium with nearly a full year of football is no good for players in my opinion as quality and enthusiasm may drop. But with it leading up to this match for these two, one more push is all that is needed to play in Europe’s second competition, and with this season, it shows that the possibility of success could happen with the luck of the draw!

Posted in Transfers

Brief Transfer Roundup in the JPL

Not that I have nothing to write about. I rarely talk about transfers unless they’re done. I’ve only ever written one transfer blog and that was because, at that time, even though the season was in full flow, I was short on ideas! But now the season is more or less over, everyday at some point I was seeing transfer deals completed all over the place. The one that threw me off was Samy Kehli to Lokeren from Roeselare, when they were due to meet each other 2 days later!

And speaking of Lokeren, they have been one of the busier sides. Finishing the season in the play offs rather well, maybe Rùnar Kristinsson has the belief that they can do better in the league, in the play offs or in the cup. Already signing the aforementioned Kehli, he has also brought in Luciano Slagveer and Robin Söder. Looks like depth in all positions are needed at the Daknamstadion!

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But reason I originally thought about this blog was because of the departure of Michel Preud’homme. I thought his race had run when Anderlecht won 2-0 against Brugge about 6 weeks ago (give or take) and I was proved right. Managers know when they’ve gone as far as they can go and where others are staying, deservedly so at STVV and unsurely at Mouscron, Club Brugge are without a manager.

With Frank de Boer linked, amongst others I take it, Preud’homme has been making signings already before he left. What if these aren’t in the plans of the next manager? What if the players themselves joined because of Michel Preud’homme? Three players have been signed so far and with the Belgian league tending to start just that bit earlier, the clock is ticking for the Blauw-Zwart with a Champions League qualifier to decide as well before September 1st.

Anderlecht have been very impressive in the market under René Weiler. He secured deals before the end of the season, either re-signing Isaac Kiese Thelin for another season on loan, but permanently signing Teodorczyk and Spajic before they’d even won the title! The only problem was holding onto Youri Tielemans. It was inevitable that he’d leave but I had Arsenal and Roma as the main options, by Monaco splashed the cash and the French champions are well suited for the outstanding youngster.

Another youngster potentially on his way, and massively linked with Arsenal, again, is Henry Onyekuru. When I saw him at the Diagne interview, he was the first to introduce himself to me! Not the other way round. And as I am a Gooner (incase you didn’t know) I’m gutted I never got a picture with him. Speculation of a £6.8 million fee is nothing to a Premier League club and I think we’ll with the punt. Another out of Eupen is Mamadou Sylla, who went to Gent via Espanol, his parent club.

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Other deals announced this week were Nicolas Rajsel, who I knew would stay in the Pro League after being outstanding for USG in the play offs, and Henrik Dalsgaard to Championship side Brentford. I thought the impressive Danish full back was off to Genk, with Sandy Walsh going to Zulte Waregem, but with the Dane choosing to go to England, he may feel a second tier side scrapping for a play off place in England compared to either Europa League with Zulte, it possible European football with Genk was a better option? 

Anyway, with other transfers happening everyday, I’ll settle for these on this roundup. I’ll probably keep tabs and either tweet what I see or you’ll read it here on a regular basis, that’s if anyone does read this, and I’ll give my opinion in the aftermath. Enjoy! 

Posted in Matches in Brief

Genk Control De Limburg Derby!

Before the match I wrote a piece that hopefully made the match, on paper, look a whole lot more competitive than it’d be on grass. But unfortunately for Sint Truiden, football isn’t played on paper, and along with that, Genk played De Kanaries off the pitch!

I was at my own huge game yesterday where the best team won, and across to North West Belgium, the​ best team also won. I really did believe a fight, in a good way, would be put up by the visitors, but Genk’s superiority really shined through. Lucas Pirard was rushed off his feet to be honest and his gloves were more than warm. After a short drinks break, the breakthrough finally happened, in what looked like the simplest fashion with a tap in from Thomas Buffel 6 yards out. Ten minutes later, Jean-Paul Boetius switched from provider to scorer. After a free flowing move, he swept home a finish, once again unmarked.

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Albert Stuivenberg’s team were just a class above and Mbwana Samatta sealed the win on the 55th minute looping the ball over the hapless keeper, once again unchallenged. Only resorting STVV to half chances, the scoreline flattered Sint Truiden who after such a fantastic play offs, deserved more in the end, and their fans certainly did. Genk just have the upper hand right now in Limburg and along with that, showed why they could just be better suited to the Europa League. The only question I want to ask is how did they finish 8th in the regular season?

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But onto Wednesday, a huge game will take place on the coast at Oostende, where rest may be crucial to Oostende in the end, but with a red hot Genk right now, I wouldn’t want to guess a potential score! 

Posted in Matches in Brief

De Limburg Derby Day!

In Belgium, it’s unofficial cup final day! Well, not totally because the prize after this is just to play Oostende. That’s the real ‘final’. But tonight, Genk host Sint Truiden where the whole Provence will be glued to the outcome of these two rivals. 

Genk hold the upper hand. They have players who have played in big matches, they’re at home, they cruised to top in PO2B, meaning they had the luxury to rest players and they’re at home. Some may say they’d prefer them in the Europa League come next season due to their fine performance this season. 

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But I think one thing goes against them. STVV have been switched on throughout the entire play offs, playing against arguably tough opposition and have players right on form in Gerkens, Vetokele and Ceballos. All 3 have been outstanding, with the other 8 around them like Stef Peeters and maybe even an in form Kurt Abrahams might be the match winner. 

With all those who could stand out, of course Genk have real quality of their own, from Mathew Ryan in goal, through to Samatta up top, with Trossard and Scrijvers and Pozuelo andyou catch my drift. Not only is this a fantastic match, if the Luminus Arena really does light up, there could be fireworks and maybe even an upset. This is the one off of all one off matches in a derby situation! The cream always rises to the top, but matches in Belgium aren’t always settled by moments of real quality. One loose ball ceased upon, one slip in defence or one costly missed chance could be the deal breaker in what I feel will be a tight affair compared to say…the 3-0 away win from Genk a few months ago. Not only was real quality on show, but a quick fire treble sealed the win for De Smurfen just before half time.

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That of course could be replicated, but I think De Kanaries have strengthened mentally since then and may spring a surprise if they’re as battle hardened as they have been, demolishing Mechelen last time out and romping to the top of PO2A! I just think, even if this wasn’t a derby, It’d still be a fantastic match due to their form going into the match. Goals have to be scored tonight regardless, but I wouldn’t be surprised if goals are guaranteed by both in the fight for Europe, or at least, the next phase in their quest! 

Exciting!!!

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: RSC Anderlecht 1946/47

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 this club winning their 34th Belgian Pro League title this season, I thought I’d go all the way back to their very first title win. This issue of Back in Time sort of commemorates the 70th anniversary, and let’s just say, Les Mauves haven’t looked back since. The difference between this season here and this season now is that the league has ended today, but back then the league wasn’t settled til the very last match of the season, which took place in late June! 

Yes, late June. Luckily there wasn’t an international tournament that season! The Emile Versé stadium was the destination where Anderlecht became the 4th different team from the capital to win a top flight league title. Did the second world war help? Who knows, well, I’m sure somebody will know, but teams like Union Saint Gilloise and Germinal Beerschot who were prior champions leading up to World War 2 just weren’t the same, whereas Anderlecht dominated Belgian league football for the rest of the forties, the fifties AND the sixties!

Players that season were phenomenal. For example, you wouldn’t mind having this as a classic 5 aside. With Henri ‘Rie’ Meert in goal, winning 8 titles in 18 years at the club, he was consistent for both club and country. Then you had Jean Valet defending who won 5 titles in 15 years. François de Wael and Victor Erroelen in midfield with the exceptional Joseph Mermans up front. If he was around now, with his goalscoring record, he’d be worth a fair bit of money with an unbelievable record for Anderlecht and with his total finishing at 39 goals in 34 matches this title winning season!

There were other superb players around these five, arranged by Frenchman Georges Perino, but the great thing is that through recruitment and tactics, Anderlecht kicked on and this was the imputus. As a fair few of these players were at the club before the second world war, meaning the fruits of their labour were finally awarded, along with their fantastic loyalty to the club.

Going back to the league, Anderlecht finished 2 points above R. Olympic CC in the league with a better win record and a fantastic goal difference. With 112 goals scored by the club, that works out over 3 goals scored per match! And there were plenty of derbies too, with 5 clubs representing Brussels as well this season. The biggest win that season was a 7-0 home win over Sint Niklaassche SK, who were one of five teams who were relegated in this 19 team league, with Club Brugge (R FC Brugeois) finishing bottom of the pile!

With this league title being so vital for the club, and I say vital because in the 70 years in between, Les Mauves have won 34. If my maths is correct, although it isn’t difficult, that’s a squeak under a title every 2 seasons since. To achieve that is an unbelievable achievement. Teams have come and stayed like Club Brugge, but others have come and gone, like Mechelen and Standard Liege who look like they want to continue a challenge at various points, but it’s never sustained, and now you have Gent and Genk in the present day who want to try and create their own dynasty, which will need a hell of a lot of building!

Posted in Manager Profile

Manager Profile: René Weiler

The season has ended. Well…not officially. But for one club in Belgium it certainly has, and on a major high too. Anderlecht put a run together that saw them crowned this season’s Belgian Pro League champions, and deservedly so, and one man at the helm of this historic and huge club in the capital is a modest and unassuming manager, René Weiler.

The Swiss took over in the summer, leaving Nürnberg and replacing Besnik Hasi who moved to Legia Warsaw. With Anderlecht not winning the league for a short time, it would probably be considered a drought for a club this successful in recent years, so a plan would have been needed by somebody who spent his entire football career playing in Switzerland. Looking at the summer transfers in and out, some inspired signings were brought in, like Spajic, Hanni and Teodorczyk who not only proved a huge success, but also sured up the spine of the team. He also appointed Tielemans as a club captain as well as Sofiane Hanni which was a good move in itself.

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After a reasonable start, remaining unbeaten until late September, when a huge upset where relegated Westerlo beat Les Mauves at the Constant Vanden Stock, his plans were going along nicely, and for his sake, very well until the end of the season. Looking at his results and the club, he looked​ to have made the team more assured, knowing how good Anderlecht were in this division and showing how he trusted his players as squad rotation did come into play. He also proved how much faith he had in his players as he took that into the Europa League and heroically only lost to Manchester United through an extra time winning for the English side.

Averaging just over 2 goals per game in the regular season and the play offs (scoring 82 goals), that’s a fantastic goal return, knowing that his players had the capability to score anywhere if needed. They also conceded just under a goal a game, which isn’t too bad conceding 36 goals all season. One thing is for sure, you were bound for entertainment watching this season’s champions in action, week in, week out.

This was groundbreaking for Weiler too. This was his first title as a player or manager. To win your first trophy is huge, no matter what it is, and to do it at a club which may have felt that they needed new, fresh ideas and to see such a positive turnaround so quickly, not only repaid the faith in the board, but proved them right too.

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Winning only breeds winning and I’m sure this club will continue to remain hungry for progression. This also puts the manager into good stead as he can now know what it takes to see out a title win. The only problem for the club is that keeping hold of their players will always be an issue, and if there’s continuous glory, holding onto the gaffer will always be a problem too incase he moves to France, or a bigger Bundesliga side, or even go back home but with Basel this time?

I don’t intend to turn a huge positive into a negative, but the reality is that this league discovers and churns out such names in world football, whether that be on the pitch or on the bench. This won’t happen soon of course, and hopefully for Anderlecht’s sake, he may build something big in Brussels, but in the back of every supporter, journalist and players head, they know that success sees progression, and that means new explorations for everyone involved, unless you just love Belgium or the club you play for.

Posted in Matches in Brief

As The Curtain Closes on PO1…

We see that nothing changed positionally on the last day. A couple of things could’ve occured if Gent and Charleroi were to snatch wins away. Five of the six teams can now assess their season, go off and as footballers tend to say, come back fitter and stronger and work on blah blah blah, even though I’m sure the vast majority come back just as good, or to honest fans, come back just as disappointing!

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But alas, Anderlecht were of course crowned champions and hosted Oostende in a match that watching from a far, looked more like a testimonial. The game ended 3-2 to the champions where I felt the best goal was the David Rozenhal bullet header of an own goal. I’m sure Lukasz Teodorczyk was even proud of that one. For me though, Les Mauves are by far and away the worthy winners of the Pro League this season, not just because they climbed to the top, but because they performed so well throughout the regular season and the play offs. The cream does always rise to the top.

With Oostende unable to take a point, Charleroi could’ve overtaken them into the Europa League play off place with a win away at hapless Zulte Waregem, who, and I’ve said this since the first play off match I think, gave up on the season after the cup, plus, their record against the 5 above them is atrocious. Cristian Benavente put the visitors 2-0 up at half time and made it look like Zulte Waregem were going to finish on a whimper, until Henrik Dalsgaard halves the deficit, before assisting Mühren 5 minutes from time. Dalsgaard, Im sure is off to Genk next season and signed off his play offs with a fine second half display. He has been possibly the only shining light on a dark play off campaign for Waregem. Les Zèbres on the other hand miss out on European football altogether unfortunately. They have performed very well all season but fall just short of the play off for Europe.

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Lastly it was the game of the weekend where Club Brugge hosted Gent in a match that would determine who’d get the Champions League qualifying place for next season. Gent needed a win. Nothing less would do in a tough match in which Club Brugge knew they couldn’t give less than 100%. When Wesley, who like Dalsgaard previously, has had a fantastic play off campaign individually put the hosts in front at half time. Hans Vanaken smashed a low drive into the bottom corner in the second half to seal a win and wrap up second. Kenny Saief did pull back a goal with 20 minutes still to play, making it nervy for Brugge, but to score another 2 would’ve been miraculous really, and Brugge held on to the win.

Overall the play offs weren’t vintage as Anderlecht looked in control from the start and those around them did just drop too many points, either against each other or draws came into play too.

Posted in Matches in Brief

Champions League Play Off Anyone…

With Anderlecht winning the title, or Club Brugge losing it, depending on how you want to put your spin on it, Belgium have their league champions as of Thursday night as Anderlecht fought back to defeat Charleroi, although Brugge’s defeat meant any result would suffice.

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But because of that defeat, and Gent’s outstanding performance against Zulte Waregem, today’s match between 2nd vs 3rd at the Jan Breydel Stadion is a Champions League play off! One point separate the two heading into the match, and with Gent’s form, I wouldn’t be surprised if they sneak into second by this afternoon. Looking at form within these play offs, Gent have been second in terms of points won, whereas Brugge are level with Oostende! And at one ponts I thought Oostende were quite dreadful. 

With those points to games, there’s no surprise that Gent have snuck up, and at one point, they were contenders to Anderlecht, and also, shows how average Club Brugge have been too. They’ve just looked out of sorts to me and I’m going to look back at my post from when I said that Anderlecht would win the league, mainly due to the inability of teams around them to take initiative. 

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Other than that massive fixture due to the consequences of the outcome, the other 2 are just fillers. True, Charleroi could overtake Oostende and get a Europa League play off against either Genk or Sint Truiden, but maybe Zulte Waregem will turn up for once and Oostende may hope Les Mauves partied just a little too much since Thursday and upset the coronation at the Constant Vanden Stock? 

Overall, I think Genk deserve the Europa League place and will represent the league a bit better than the alternatives. People may not like that but it’s simply an opinion. But until they play Sint Truiden who have been brilliant, either De Kustboys or Les Zèbres will lie in wake depending on this afternoon’s result.

All I know is that I’ll miss writing about league matches, the connotations of results and the quality shown in those matches as well. The twist and turns, the upsets and the routs. I won’t lie, some matches have just looked on the surface as dead rubbers, but when it ends 4-4 or 5-3, you realise that attacking wise there are some real quality players with creativity and drive, as well as absolutely inept defending, organisation and sometimes, woeful goalkeeping.

I’ll post my opinion on today’s matches tomorrow morning and will write little posts throughout the summer, but all I know is that I can’t wait already for who’ll come in, who’ll surprise and which team will push the champions all the way again!

Posted in Player Interview

Player Interview: Diawandou Diagne

This Thursday I finally met the ever present KAS Eupen player Diawandou Diagne. On a very wet lunch time in East Belgium, I managed to travel through Cologne and Aachen, down into the small town where amongst the residential areas stood a stadium that looked almost brand new. After a brief wait where every player not only exchanged pleasantries, they also introduced themselves before I even had the chance to say hello. With such manners from such a young squad, I could tell De Pandas coming through The Aspire Academy were being taught more than just football.

When I finally had the chance to sit with the defender/midfielder in a casual setting, the interview took place in a slightly noisy lunch room in the players lounge.

So Diawandou, how do you feel the season has gone?

Not bad. The season was good because our aim was to stay in the first division and we made it. Now we’re in the play offs. Our objective was to be first and play the final of the play offs, but that didn’t happen so our aim is to play and win and finish the season well. For me, the season was good.

After the last minute draw against Standard Liege I thought you may have been relegated. Did the team ever doubt themselves and think they’d go down?

We never gave up. Our aim was to stay in this division. That game was here and they equalised but the team never dropped their level because everybody was saying ‘we can do it’. We can be in the first division and we had to keep fighting. We need to deal with some mistakes we were creating because we were doing so many in the last minute, losing so many points in the last minute like Standard here and Lokeren here too. If we wanted to stay up we needed to stop doing this.

To be more discplined as a group?

We need to be more organised. At the start we did a lot of running for each other for the team, because that’s the most important thing.

Did you think age was a factor? With such a young squad, do you think that may have came into play?

That’s true, because we are the youngest team in Belgium. We have so many here with not much experience. Some day they come from the academy in Africa and then they’re playing in the first division. It is not easy for them because to deal with the climate, fans, teams, etc. It’s not easy because sometimes in the academy you play in tournaments, but here you’re playing for your family, your living and the club.

So do you see football more difficult now that it’s your job?

Yes because for me, professional football is not easy. It’s really difficult because 5 years ago you’re at the academy, living isn’t the same. Now you’re in your own house, eating here (at the club) and you have to deal with just yourself. In the academy everything was done for you. It’s not the same. 

On a personal note, how do you think you’ve performed this season?

For me it was good because last season I played a little bit because of my shoulder. After that I had an operation and missed a lot of the season, but this season was good for me. I’ve played almost every game and I feel this year was a good season for me.

You’ve only kept four clean sheets in the league all season. Would you feel you need to work more on the defensive side?

For me the first target is to defend well. We are a team where nearly every game we score at least 1 goal, but after we score we concede. For me the manager will need to deal with it for next season. To prepare to defend very well because our problem is to defend because we concede a lot. Defence for me is when everyone defends!

Because of your versatility, where is your preferred position?

I prefer to play in midfield. But if the manager says play in the centre (of defence) or left back or right back, I need to play to help the team because of injury and you need to help the coach.

Is there anyone you tried to base your game on as a child?

No…When you are a kid you just play. At Aspire they played me in many positions.

Did Aspire play you in all different positions to see where you fit and performed well?

They were doing that. For me, every position was not difficult.

You have left here and come back a couple of times. Do you feel at home in Belgium?

Yeah I feel at home here. I was here for 2 years, then went to Spain, and then come back and I knew Belgium. I feel comfortable here. I feel at home here and with this club and the supporters it’s really good. I feel great here.

I think I counted 17 African players at Eupen. Does that make you feel more comfortable at the club and does your experience of being here help them settle here too?

Every African player here, you have to make them feel at home. You need to make them feel better the first year because Belgium is really really good. You need to adapt to the weather and the league and to life in Europe.

Because you’ve said it’s really good here, do you think the Pro League is under appreciated?

The thing with Belgium is that it’s a league where other leagues look at the players. It’s not a top, top, top league. It’s still good but not the level of England or Germany or France. You see from this year Anderlecht and Genk go far in the Europa League.

Are there many differences between the Pro League and Spanish football?

Its not the same level as in Spain it’s so high. Almost all the teams want the ball, whereas here, sometimes here they wait for a corner or a free kick because they have so much height in the team. It’s different between here and Spain.

You say that because I love that in England you have Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham who play one style. Then you have West Brom, Stoke City and Crystal Palace who play another way. Do you like a mixed league like here in Belgium?

I do like that. You have Manchester City and Tottenham who can play both and mix it up. For me, England has the best football in the world. You can’t compare it with anywhere else. Very tough, very strong. To be in England you have to work really hard.

How good is the Aspire Academy?

For me, Aspire is the best in the world because you learn more than just football. You go to school in the morning and the afternoon and work hard. They have great facilities to play football.

Because the club has a lot youngsters, do you feel the club could eventually achieve something now that you’ve stayed up and reached the Croky Cup semi final?

I think it’s possible. We got to the semi final of the cup and stayed up. We have the top scorer (at the time). It’s not easy coming from the second division. For me the manager will have to deal with a lot of what we’ve already said first.

You mentioned the top scorer, do you think Henry Onyekuru will be here next season?

No. I think he’ll go. Many clubs are looking at him and for me he has had a great season and deserves more.

Do you know where he may go?

No I don’t. Many clubs like him and only he will decide where to go. For me I wish him all the best for wherever he goes. He is a great player and a great person.

Do you think it’s a negative if he leaves Belgium? With Tielemans going and the better players leaving?

No. They have to go and progress. We have great players coming through in Africa and Qatar and they can come and make it.

Picking up only 2 yellows cards is impressive. What do you feel is your best attribute?

For me it’s tough not to get a yellow card in defensive midfield. But I need to keep working and improving for next season because now the clubs know more about us.

Who is the toughest player you have come up against this season?

Lukasz Teodorczyk

Why was he so tough?

Its not that his good technically, but he’s very strong and in the air too. And Hans Vanaken is very, very good. He impressed me also.

Do you feel you’ve warranted more starts for Senegal?

YEAH!

Did you feel Senegal were unlucky in the AFCON this season?

I feel we are the best team in Africa!

Lastly I decided to take the opportunity to ask about Saido Mane for my friend who is a massive Liverpool fan!

How good is Saido Mane?

We talk a lot. He is a top player, best player for Senegal.

I think he is quality and Liverpool are worse without him. What do you think?

For me, he is the best player in the Premier League this season!

As the interview came to an end, we simply shook hands as I was grateful that not only the player took time out his day for a chat, but the club arranged the chance for me to talk to him in the first place. A club that looked like they were here to stay in the Pro League, progression certainly looks on the cards for everybody involved at Eupen!