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Season review: Belgium

Published: Monday 8 June 2009, 11.35CET
The Belgian title race proved to be a real thriller, with R. Standard de Liège retaining the crown after a play-off decider against RSC Anderlecht, while the Belgian Cup brought a painful success for KRC Genk's Marvin Ogunjimi.
by Berend Scholten
Season review: Belgium
Standard celebrate winning the Belgian title ©AFP
Published: Monday 8 June 2009, 11.35CET

Season review: Belgium

The Belgian title race proved to be a real thriller, with R. Standard de Liège retaining the crown after a play-off decider against RSC Anderlecht, while the Belgian Cup brought a painful success for KRC Genk's Marvin Ogunjimi.

The Belgian title race proved to be a real thriller, with R. Standard de Liège retaining the crown after a play-off decider against RSC Anderlecht, while the Belgian Cup brought a painful success for KRC Genk's Marvin Ogunjimi. AFC Tubize and RAEC Mons were both relegated while KSV Roeselare survived a demotion play-off against R. Antwerp FC, winning 4-2.

Champions: R. Standard de Liège
Having won their first title in 25 years under Michel Preud'homme last season, Standard prevailed again under his successor László Bölöni, with Axel Witsel's penalty in the home leg of a winner-takes-all play-off seeing them overcome Anderlecht 2-1 on aggregate. The two sides finished the regular season level on 77 points, with Anderlecht's superior goal difference counting for nothing in the final reckoning. "This title is even more special then last season's, as now we go directly into the Champions League group stage," said Standard captain Steven Defour.

Cup final: KV Mechelen 0-2 KRC Genk
Genk won their third Belgian Cup at the Roi Baudouin Stadium thanks to two goals from Marvin Ogunjimi, the first from a one-on-one and the second from a rebound. However, the Mechelen-born player who started his career at his local club, did not feel much like celebrating, saying: "It pains my heart and I would rather have scored against another team, but Genk is my club now."

European places
Standard – UEFA Champions League group stage
Anderlecht – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
Genk – UEFA Europa League play-off round
Club Brugge KV – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
KAA Gent – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round

Surprise package: SV Zulte Waregem
A fifth-placed finish represented Zulte-Waregem's biggest achievement since their formation with the merger of KSV Waregem and Zultse VV in 2001. Coach Francky Dury led the side to promotion from the third division to the top flight in the space of their first four seasons, and they won the 2006 Belgian Cup to make their European debut in the UEFA Cup the following campaign. This time around, they were just four points short of another European adventure.

Player of the Year: Axel Witsel (R. Standard de Liège)
The 20-year-old Witsel was handed the 55th Golden Boot, the most prestigious award for Belgian players, in January, while fellow professionals and Eerste Klasse coaches voted Anderlecht's Moroccan international attacking midfielder Moubarak Boussoufa as the Players' Player of the Year. The Amsterdam-born 24-year-old had previously won the same honour as a Gent player in 2006.

One to watch: Bryan Ruiz (KAA Gent)
The Costa Rican attacking midfielder missed an added-time penalty against Standard on the final day of the season which would have handed the title to Anderlecht, but the Buffalos' captain deserves more to be remembered for the quality of his play this season. Coach Preud'homme converted him from an out-and-out forward to a playmaker and was rewarded by some great performances, with Standard, Anderlecht and a host of foreign clubs now alerted to his class.

Leading scorer: Jaime Alfonso Ruiz, KVC Westerlo (17)

Number: 16
The Eerste Klasse will be reduced from 18 teams to 16 from next season.

Quote
"It was fantastic; a sea of people all the way from the stadium to the centre of Liege. I had an appointment two in the morning with the Standard management at a restaurant on the other side of the River Meuse, but I never got there."
Standard coach László Bölöni admitting that his side's title celebrations had forced him to miss a date.

 

Last updated: 08/06/09 17.00CET

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