Jupiler Pro League News round-up – 26 March

Cofidis Cup final – KV Kortrijk 0-1 Lokeren – Sporting triumph in adversity thanks to Harbaoui’s winner

Saturday night’s Belgian cup final between Kortrijk and Lokeren provided a number of talking points despite the absence of the big five. It took Hamdi Harbaoui’s delightful finish over an advancing Darren Keet to settle the destination of the trophy though sizeable credit must go to Nill De Pauw for his superb cushioned header, which played in the striker. The game had begun with Harbaoui correctly having a goal chalked off ; Keet, who became the youngest South African to play in a cup final in Europe, played what turned out to be the perfect offside trap despite flapping at the free-kick.

Then came the major flash point of the evening. After a tussle between Brecht Capon and Benji De Ceulaer, which saw the Lokeren top scorer red carded, much to his amazement and disappointment. Replays showed De Ceulaer going for the Kortrijk right-back, first trying to grab him around the head and then catching him on the shin though it was a theatrical and over-dramatic fall. Whatever the assistant referee thought he saw, a yellow card would have sufficed. Referee Jérôme Nzolo was however sticking to his guns today and he has been publicly backed by the referees supremo Robert Jeurissen.

Thereafter, Lokeren regrouped and in truth, Kortrijk never made anywhere near enough of their numerical advantage despite dominating in terms of territory. Harbaoui’s goal marks the first trophy in Lokeren’s history and a crowning moment for long-serving octogenarian chairman Roger Lambrecht. Kortrijk must now dust themselves off and regroup for Play-Off 1.

Beerschot – Jacky Mathijssen let go with immediate effect as Koster is linked with the job

The Antwerpen-based club have resolved the future of coach Jacky Mathijssen by letting the former Club Brugge boss depart with immediate effect. The move comes after recent speculation of “secret” talks with another former Blauw-Zwart coach in Adrie Koster, who is the heavy favourite to take over. Mathijssen, who lost just one league game at home in 16 months (to Kortrijk earlier this season),  had pledged for certainty over his role at the club as he felt it was preventing him from doing his job to the best of his abilities. Beerschot finished 11th in the table on 36 points – 10 points off a top six place and at the same time never in any serious relegation danger.

In an official statement, the club announced they would be holding a press conference next week and only then so as not to disrupt the preparations for the first game in Play Off 2 against Mons. Assistant coach Wim De Korte takes temporary charge.

Anderlecht – Michel Preud’homme hints at possible return to Belgium

In an interview with the La Dernière Heure, Al-Shabab coach Michel Preud’homme has said that the interest in his services from Anderlecht is flattering. With speculation around the future of incumbent boss Ariël Jacobs, attention has turned to the Middle East and the former Belgian international goalkeeper, who led Standard Liège to their first league title in 25 years in 2008 before winning the cup with KAA Gent.

“I’d prefer not to talk about it. It’s too sensitive,” he told the newspaper. “All I will say on the above is that the interest is flattering. Just like that of Club Brugge was last October. After firing Adrie Koster, the club management held discussions with me. It wasn’t possible at that point in time. It shows that Club Brugge and Anderlecht are following me and think I am a good coach…They are not the only ones. I know that several clubs from abroad are keeping an eye on me and tracking my progress.”

Should Anderlecht wish to prise Preud’homme away from Saudi Arabia, where he has exceeded any realistic expectations given the resources at his disposal, they will have to meet a release clause of €3m, scheduled to rise to €3.5m if Preud’homme signs a new deal.

KAA Gent – Mohamed Messoudi signs from Kortrijk

De Buffalo’s have, as expected, completed the signing of Mohamed Messoudi from KV Kortrijk. The 28 year-old versatile attacking midfielder joins on a three-year contract from next season. It is good news for the former Willem II man as he overcomes Kortrijk’s cup final defeat at the weekend. He is seen as the replacement for Tim Smolders who is off to Cercle Brugge.

“KAA Gent have been following me for a few months now,” he told Voetbal Primeur. “My goal was to one day play for a top club in Belgium and I am therefore very happy that Gent have given me a chance now. When I went to Willem II, I could have gone to Genk or Standard. I learned a lot in the Netherlands but maybe I would have been better advised to stay longer in Belgium. In the last few months I have reached my best form and so this move comes at just the right time.”

The player went on to admit that he needs to be more productive – he has just three goals and an assist this year for De Kerels but has nonetheless made himself an important part of a Kortrijk side, which has arguably overachieved this term.

Club Brugge – Rosenborg midfielder Markus Henriksen will not sign a new contract

Club Brugge target Markus Henriksen has said he will not sign a new contract with Norwegian giants Rosenborg. The 19 year-old midfielder, who turned down a move to the Jan Breydelstadion in January, is also being watched by Anderlecht, Heerenveen and Hannover among others. Blauw-Zwart also have their eyes on Aalborg starlet Lukas Andersen, who is just seventeen, though Ajax and Udinese are also interested. It is no co-incidence that they are once again looking to the Nordic countries to strengthen as they have a dedicated scout for the region in the form of former player Rune Lange.

Standard Liège – Memé Tchité back in training following knee problem

Sudpresse have reported that Standard striker Memé Tchité trained on his own today as he recovers from a knee problem ahead of this weekend’s crunch trip to KAA Gent in Play Off 1.

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