Unfortunately this was submitted too late for this week’s issue but please enjoy, the wonderful John Chapman describes the action from this week in Belgium…
Jupiler League Day 1: It’s raining goals
The new season kicked off in Belgium with a record number of goals – 34 in eight games – since the league was reduced to 16 teams. Enzo Scifo’s Mons were the highest scorers with five, while Peter Maes’ Lokeren and Harm van Veldhoven’s KV Mechelen both hit four.
There’s a big focus on the number of Dutch coaches in the league this season; most people say there are five but there’s a body of opinion saying it’s four (as van Veldhoven is Dutch but a naturalised Belgian). Sport/Foot magazine recently argued there were 4.5. Whatever, neither John van den Brom at Anderlecht nor Ron Jans at Standard Liège could start with a win; that would be some relief to those that argue Belgium has enough home-grown coaches without importing from across the border.
Of those teams primarily favoured to reach the playoffs (top six qualify), Anderlecht were rather fortunate to draw 1-1 at Kortrijk, while Standard probably deserved a point but went down at home to a battling Zulte Waregem. Club Brugge were brilliant (in the first half) against newly promoted Waasland-Beveren, Gent strolled to a 2-0 victory over Lierse and Racing Genk found themselves in a six goal thriller with Bob Peeters’ Cercle Brugge.
Several players were worthy of mention: Cercle Brugge’s Lukas Van Eenoo caught the eye at Genk, although his two goals were somewhat fortunate; the almost unknown Robin Henkens (KV Mechelen) made a bid to replace Julien Gorius by scoring two and making two goals; Club Brugge’s Lior Refaelov also looked good, as did fellow Israeli Shlomi Arbitman (Gent). Lokeren’s Miloš Marić had a crowd-pleasing debut and Standard new boy Astrit Ajdarevic (ex Liverpool youth team) showed promise in his first 45 minutes.
Pride of place, however, goes to Genk’s Christian Benteke who scored a couple and was a real handful for the Cercle Brugge defence. He looks certain to be in the next Belgian squad and could even start against the Netherlands next month.
Mons are top of the table by virtue of their five goals and three points; next Saturday they visit Lokeren, which will be the first table-topping clash of the season (Zulte Waregem then welcome Gent on Sunday). In the meantime, Anderlecht, Club Brugge, Genk and Gent all have European matches. That’s not the case for Standard, so Jans will have more time to decide his tactics (will he stick with two defensive midfielders?) for Standard’s visit to Lierse.
Performance of the week: Zulte Waregem
Player of the week: Christian Benteke
Kortrijk 1 Anderlecht 1; KV Mechelen 4 Charleroi 2; Mons 5 Leuven 2; Club Brugge 3 Waasland Beveren 1; Beerschot 2 Lokeren 4; Standard 0 Zulte Waregem 1; Gent 2 Lierse 0; Racing Genk 3 Cercle Brugge 3.
Website – http://www.belgofoot.be/