Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Eric Ocansey

I scoured through the fixtures this week and I felt this club needed a result more than any. Eupen always need a result to be fair and at one point, I felt Eric Ocansey would follow Henry Onyekuru to bigger and better things. Obviously he still could, but for now he’ll need to focus his energy into the club who gave him that break in European football.

Equally effective on each wing, he mainly plays out on the right wing. With his pace and quality, as well as an eye for goal, he can worry many defenders with his pace and effort. Eupen have a fantastic mix of youth and experience up front with Ocansey, Leye, Garcia and Afif.

The thing is, Eupen have gone from goals galore, scoring and conceding, to tightening up at both ends. I’ve actually predicted a 2-1 win for the Pandas tomorrow because performances have looked encouraging under Claude Makélélé and Sint-Truiden look like they’ve slowed down recently.

The Ghanaian will look to add to his 5 league goals and 2 assists this season. He may feel he could’ve done better so far, not so much goals wise but assist wise. If he can get a yard and cross he’d have a good chance of Mbaye Leye getting his head on it.

With the score being 4-4 last time these two met, I can’t see that happening again. The goals have dried up for both, but on the plus side, Eupen seem to have a decent record at the Kehrweg against De Kanaries. At the end of the day, stubbornness is key to Eupen surviving. Every club around them picks up points each week, jostling to stay 15th or above, and that 5 point gap stays constant each week with Kortrijk, Mechelen, or this time Lokeren ending up there with the same 5 point gap.

Makélélé has his vision on football and plenty of coaches to takes his ideology from, as well as his own. His gone from one extreme to the other under the greatest coaches. From Del Bosque to Mourinho. Ocansey needs to soak up every bit of information he can, for his club future and international future.

If he can aim to whip a good ball in then he’ll be key to any club. It’s tough playing out wide because of the physical demands, but I was told if you get the ball across, then it’s for the strikers to get into the box. I know I shouldn’t be trying to ‘sell him’ but if he does progress, he needs to look at his former teammate in Onyekuru and not Acolatse or Ganvoula who just haven’t kicked on.

But for tomorrow, a good performance and a win above all will be priority.

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Thomas Kaminski

This season I have tried to consistently write a Player Profile every week. I usually do, missing 1…or 2. Amongst these I have written about 2 goalkeepers in massive matches for their clubs (Sinan Bolat and Davino Verhulst) and they both kept clean sheets, to my surprise anyway! And now I am hoping to make it a hat trick?

Speaking of consistency, here is a goalkeeper who has had to mature quickly in my eyes in that he has had to be a leader within a slightly struggling side, who now seem to have had an upturn in results and in front of goal. Thomas Kaminski has been outstanding in the matches I’ve managed to watch this season, constantly being the stand out performer.

The 25 year old has proved how vital he is to Kortrijk. Constantly number 1 on the team sheet, for me he is in the top 3 or 5 goalkeepers in the league. More top 3 actually! Not blaming the defence, but if there wasn’t such a barrage of efforts raining down on him on some occasions, he may have kept more clean sheets. Just two in the league this season, although I don’t think you can judge him fairly just by that if I’m honest.

I think at Anderlecht maybe they made a rash decision moving him on. Loan spells abroad, successful or not, could’ve only helped mentally, dealing with different languages, climates and behaviour of different nations. Going by what Gary Martin told me last season, most lower Belgian clubs tend to give shorter length of contracts because of the financial restraints on clubs, but with plenty of time left on the big man’s deal tells you his worth to the club. I honestly feel Thomas won’t be at the Guldensporen for much longer unfortunately for Kortrijk fans.

De Kerels are on an upturn of form since Glen De Boeck arrived and have definitely surprised me. You can’t rule them out now in every match. Gent however have been superb since they had a managerial change of their own. Kaminski will have his work cut out against the likes of Moses Simon and Yuya Kubo at the Ghelamco Arena, with a strong defensive performance, which will also have to be replicated in the Croky Cup midweek too.

Moving outside of tomorrow and the Pro League altogether, still at a tender age for a goalkeeper, he has plenty of time, although he already has plenty of experience. I wonder which country he may pick if they both clamber at the same time to call him up. Both Belgium and Poland have world class goalkeepers, but to get him nailed down at either could be a race to get Kaminski capped soon. As I stated, if a move does happen, especially with 3 weeks til the window opens, the standard of club will help if a bigger club come calling?

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Dion Cools

I actually didn’t do a Player Profile last week! No matter how I have felt regarding…well…anything, I’ve never not done one! However, as I have always done, I’ve tried to spread these around the 16 clubs in the Belgium top flight, and it’s not only time for a Club Brugge player, but I’m giving to Dion Cools.

The Malaysian/Belgian has flourished this season under Ivan Leko. However, everything wasn’t going to plan as he didn’t feature in the Champions League qualifiers and in the first 3 matches of the season. But as a young, promising player, he has performed superbly well and has featured in every match since mid August.

His versatility is extremely useful, but has predominantly played right midfield, and is as effective going forward as he is defensively, which is more natural to him. Scoring 3 goals in the league and creating 1 too in an all out attacking side isn’t actually too bad, averaging a goal just over every 4 matches.

The positive for Dion, which is a negative for Blauw-Zwart, is that good young players will get snapped up from Belgium. Maybe I’m jumping ahead here, but a title win this season, which is more than likely, with his progressive performances, could well see him move on to pastures new, and I wouldn’t class it as a risk either.

Another huge positive is the aforementioned versatility, meaning why can’t the hopeful youngster keep an eye on the Belgian senior team situation. Of course a squad glittering with stars, it’s more likely Cools will be one for the future, if he punts for Belgium over Malaysia. But with him being able to cover across the back, and most probably midfield, he could be vital at some stage, or even for experience which does happen.

When all said and done, should he be selected for Sunday, which is likely, it could be a comprehensive victory over bottom side Eupen. Not much of a test physically, but for Brugge and Cools, this’ll be a mental and professional test.

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Marvin Baudry

This weekend is a tough one to call in all matches. Not on paper but on the pitch, to echo a lot of what I’ve said this season, can you always put money on who’ll win week in, week out? No, you can’t with any real confidence. And this match at the Regenboogstadion is another you can add to that list. When you look at this match, it is possibly the ‘glamour match’ of the weekend in Belgium, but both have either faltered from the start (Genk) or have begun to fade away in Zulte Waregem’s case. But a player who hasn’t been ever present, but has been solid in his own way is Marvin Baudry.

The Congo international this week scored in a 1-1 draw for his country against Uganda and will hopefully look to take his international form into league football. A strong defender who looked to do alright against Oostende, despite the defeat, was a colossus with his teammates in the Europa League win against Vitesse a couple of weeks ago.

I’ve chosen Marvin because Genk share the same points as Zulte and a clean sheet is priority. A win is even more important, but there is a cluster of teams who share the same points, and are separated but 1 or 2 points too. Draws aren’t what anyone wants, but no points at all is worse. Waregem have won once in the Pro League since September and have unfortunately lost every other match which has seen them slide down the table.

Genk this season could win, lose or draw in any match. They have been the epitome of this Pro League season as you never know if they’re coming or going. They have a terrific squad but no consistency. They’ll look to exploit Zulte Waregem’s fragile defence, which does include Baudry, but Francky Dury has had some time to look at some players over this international break and would’ve hopefully fixed any leaks in any department.

The other problem writing about Marvin Baudry is that there is no guarantee he’ll even play Sunday. With a plethora of decent defenders, Dury will look to play his strongest line up available, and with a very good defence, regardless of the club leaking goals, who knows if Baudry will be the plug in there to stop the likes of Samatta, Schrijvers and Ingvartsen.

I’ve been watching Rocky 4 whilst writing this so I have been floating in and out of this one. But all I know is Essevee will hope to attack and produce the knockout blow to slow the chasing pack down and get themselves back into the top 6 and stay there. With the power and fight of Baudry, his aerial ability and teamwork will be pivotal in this battle!
All pictures courtesy of Getty Images

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Łukasz Teodorczyk 

This weekend, in my honest opinion, hasn’t brought up the matches we all would like to watch. Gent-Standard looked promising, until I watched the last half hour. But until today, a day full of quality matches (on paper…always on paper) one player, in my opinion, has to turn up to the party.

The big 6’1 Polish striker seems to have a touch of the Yuya Kubo’s. In other words, second season syndrome. Maybe that’s harsh, but another Anderlecht striker, Isaac Kiese Thelin, has gone the other way and become better, whereas Teodorczyk has been outshone by Henry Onyekuru. Although in saying that, the Nigerian has double the goals, which only amounts to 3 more, but has played 45 minutes less.

The Rene Weiler signing is still a favourite with Hein Vanhaezebrouck, and of course that’s no surprise as not only is he a top player, he is different to Onyekuru, although Harbaoui is slightly similar and has done well with his chances too. Tall, strong, a battler. Perfect really in a league where if he does do well, unfortunately for Les Mauves, he could move on to a 4th country.

I have picked Teodorczyk because of the huge match today. Club Brugge come to the capital. The team blowing nearly everyone in their sights so far and Anderlecht need a huge performance all round, and the big man will know if selected, unlike during midweek, he could become the hero. A win will push Anderlecht into second (depending on Antwerp-Charleroi) and just 6 points behind Brugge in early November. Not bad for a club in crisis about 6 matches ago.

Diawandou Diagne told me he was one of 2 of the toughest players to play against in the Pro League. He needs to prove that I’m a big way today.  
All pictures courtesy of Getty Images

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Kaveh Rezaei 

Tonight sees a huge match in Belgium. Every game is a big one, but as certain clubs have levelled out and found their feet, other have recovered from collective setbacks already. One of those clubs are KAA Gent. Now with a new manager and what seems a new lease of life, Vanderhaeghe has gained 7 points since joining. Unfortunately for the opposition, they’re in a huge downward spiral and Felice Mazzu needs to drag the team out of it.

Just the one win in 7 matches now and that came against now second place Sint Truiden, Charleroi were humbled by Oostende on Tuesday falling to a 3-0 defeat at the Versluys Arena. Kaveh Rezaei came over from Iran and a nice big 75,000 seater stadium to a quaint Stade Du Pays de Charleroi and its 15,000 seater with terrific fans and plenty of passion. The club will need to direct all of that onto tonight’s match and support the team in this slump.

But with this being his first move abroad and a different lifestyle, continent, language, climate etc, he has performed very well already averaging just over a goal every 3 games. A poacher by the looks of things, his seemed to be in the right place at the right time. 

I think what helps is the trust of his manager. To play every game so far he has to back the Iranian striker to help turn the clubs fortunes around. Tonight will be tough in that goalkeeping wise and defensively, Gent have quality. Every match is a first match for the striker against these players which works both ways. Either he’ll find it tough against unknown defenders, working out their weaknesses whilst on the job, but it’s also positive for him as he is also an unknown. These players wouldn’t have come up against Rezaei…obviously.

Tough one to say though. I believe it’ll be another draw, with each side cancelling each other out. But in these tight matches, one goal is all it takes. To paraphrase Mark Wahlberg in The Other Guys ‘when you hear hooves you think horses, not Zébres….’ And that’s what Charleroi will be thinking tonight.

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Marcus Ingvartsen 

It’s not how it looks honest! Okay, it does. I’ve jumped on the band wagon. Flavour of the month in the Limburges region where a young Danish striker has helped hugely in the past couple of matches for De Smurfen. Marcus Ingvartsen has proved an inspired signing right this second and may continue his form this weekend.

At 21 he moved from Nordsjaelland in his native country and in all honesty, if it wasn’t for the last couple of key performances, he wouldn’t be spoken about right now. I won’t lie. But he deserves recognition in a struggling side who are now under 24/7 surveillance by the looks of things as the Luminous Arena turns into the Big Brother house! 

However, Marcus has only completed three 90 minute matches in the league this season, but then again there is a fight for those attacking places. Siebe Schrijvers, Mbwanna Samatta, and he may well have gotten his chance through luck with Leandro Trossard and Nikos Karelis out injured. But in all fairness he has been taking his chance with both hands.

He did come with a very good scoring record too, averaging nearly a goal every 2 matches. At 21 he looks to have a bright future in a tougher and bigger league. And with this weekend, another massive test with Genk travelling to Brussels. Anderlecht will be smarting after their recent drubbing to PSG, but league form has been a lot better for the Champions as they climb the table. In honesty, I do think Les Mauves will win and win well.

Genk’s league form has been below average as they sit in 11th with only a 20% win record. No fault of Ingvartsen at all. In fact, he has gained the club 2 points through equalisers. But away this Sunday I just feel it’ll be a tough ask, with this being a good test for him and Genk and maybe produce a scalp too in the process. 

Pictures courtesy of Getty Images

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Omar Govea

In this section I am trying to pick a player from each club once throughout the season, as its only fair, and with tomorrow being Genk vs Mouscron, why not pick one of the pivotal players for the rejuvenated club who stayed up by the skin of their teeth last season. 

And as mention, at the Luminus Arena there’ll be a fine midfielder on show. Fluent in Spanish, pulls the strings, can score and assist, yes that’s right…Omar Govea! You wasn’t thinking Pozuelo were you? Anyway, the young Mexican has been possibly one of the signings of the summer. On loan from Porto he has helped revitalize this club who, if I’m honest, I’d written off the summer.

Since his arrival, the club have found themselves in 3rd! And he has a lot to do with that. Aiding with 3 goals and an assist, it’s his off the ball defensively which is key for the team. For me, he seems like a leader who has settled quicker than snowing that central midfield position.

You can also kind of see that he does play a deeper role as he always finds space outside of the box for his long range efforts, rather than a six yard tap in. He can be deadly accurate from distance and against a Genk side who will probably be more cautious against this Mouscron side, they will still feel the need to ‘ve the more attack minded side, which may be hard work for the diminutive Mexican, but may also find him with space bow and again to pick his passes, and maybe, his spot in the top corner.

The last time these 2 met in Genk, well, the less said the better for the visitors as they were destroyed 6-0 in last season’s play offs, but you won’t have to go back to far for Mouscron’s last away win there, with an impressive 4-0 away win almost 2 years ago to the day. I’m sure both teams will score, and Mouscron will want to put their last result behind, surprisingly throwing away a 2 goal lead against Mechelen, which could now be a wake up call to not be too complacent.

When all said and done, Govea will hope to put in his typical, quality performance tomorrow and come next July, I’m sure the club from the Stade Canonnier would love to make his deal permanent!
(Pictures courtesy of Getty Images) 

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Davino Verhulst

Of anyone reads this, I like to share out my PP’s amongst all clubs across the season and with this week being a tough week for Lokeren, I thought I’d put Davino Verhulst under the microscope. It’s tough to talk about Lokeren in my opinion. Awful start seeing their manager, possibly prematurely sacked, and since then the club have levelled out in the league, beating or getting points off of those around them, and putting in spirited performances against better clubs, unfortunately always ending in defeat.

This week Lokeren travel to Zulte Waregem. One of the toughest fixtures they’ll play this season. A club that seem stable and ‘normal’ compared to a lot of the other bigger clubs in Belgium right now. With quality, a settled squad and a very good manager. That’s why I’ve decided to pick the goalkeeper. I did that with Bolat at Antwerp on the first day and a clean sheet came his way.

The problem with Lokeren is that the playing staff are unpredictable. You don’t know who’ll turn up on the day and make the difference. But Verhulst has patiently waited for his first run as a first choice, nearly across his career (correct me if I’m wrong) and he had some big gloves to fill.

Since Copa Barry has left he has been a mainstay in the starting line up. Keeping just one clean sheet however, of course he’ll know that’s unacceptable, but clean sheets don’t just come down to the goalkeeper. I guess the only thing is that some matches the club would target a blank than others. Without putting my neck on the line, I’m certain there’ll be goals at the Regenboogstadion against the Tricolores, but a winning performance is needed more.

A bit of a brief write up, the former Beveren and Genk keeper will just have to be courage, focussed and hope that either the hosts have an off day, or that his defence are more solid than they have been in recent matches. I guess a negative is the positive performance, in defeat, but Zulte Waregem on Thursday, and maybe they’ll take it out on Lokeren come Sunday night.

Picture courtesy of Getty Images

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Franck Berrier

This week I went through the fixtures and was undecided on who to go with. Then again, there is currently one club in a desperate situation and they are KV Oostende. This week as well, they lost their leader in the dugout. When Yves Vanderhaeghe left, many may have been upset, yet many may have felt it was needed. Now the manager has gone, does the second oldest player in the squad, the one who keeps the team ticking, the play maker Franck Berrier, does he take the mantle as leader? 

It has been a tough season for the Frenchman. Not because of poor form but because of the joint effort reflected in the clubs results. Scoring just one goal this season, the player will probably be his own worse critic with no assists. The reason it has also been tough individually is because he was sidelined for 3 matches with a thigh problem. 

This week however, the club did finally grab their first win in any competition, defeating Union Saint Gilloise 3-1 and Berrier helped himself to a couple of assists. I guess the only problem is that De Kustboys face Genk who’ll be smarting from their derby defeat to STVV last week and may want to exact some damage on the league’s bottom club at the Luminus Arena.

This season is the Frenchman’s 5th season at the Versluys Arena, and the wiley midfielder knows his way around the Pro League already plying his trade at Zulte Waregem and Standard Liege. A quality player on his day, maybe the Belgian league equivalent to Santi Cazorla. Technically good with a pass and an eye for goal. If things start clicking between Berrier and Zinho Gano, it could still work out to be a good season in the end, considering how it has started. 

I’m just sure that Oostende won’t go much longer without a win. Why not tomorrow against Genk whilst they’re against the ropes themselves?