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Anderlecht survive close shave

Published: Sunday 13 May 2007, 18.56CET
RSC Anderlecht coach Frank Vercauteren admitted his side could "do better" after beating off strong competition from KRC Genk to claim the Belgian title.
by Berend Scholten features

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Published: Sunday 13 May 2007, 18.56CET

Anderlecht survive close shave

RSC Anderlecht coach Frank Vercauteren admitted his side could "do better" after beating off strong competition from KRC Genk to claim the Belgian title.

RSC Anderlecht coach Frank Vercauteren believes his side could "do better" despite beating off strong competition from KRC Genk to claim the Belgian title.

Genk stutter
A 6-0 win against FC Brussels on Saturday saw Vercauteren's men take the honours with one game to go, but only after Genk suffered their first home defeat in the league since 16 October 2005, going down 2-0 against R. Charleroi SC. With the title race seemingly set to go down to the wire, it was something of an anticlimax to see the end of what most had originally expected to be a one-horse race.

Cool response
"I am not a person who expresses his feelings easily, but on the inside I am extremely satisfied," said Vercauteren as he looked ahead to playing in the third qualifying round of next season's UEFA Champions League. "Of course we can do better, and make a lot more progress, but we have been performing well with this group. I have to thank everyone for this title."

Anderlecht reinforcements
Before the start of the season, few doubted that Anderlecht would win the title, having added Belgian Player of the Year Mbark Boussoufa, Egyptian star Ahmed Hassan and R. Standard de Liège attacker Mohamed Tchité to the squad that had won the 2005/06 crown. However, a Genk side led by Vercauteren's old Anderlecht team-mate Hugo Broos was to give the Brussels side a mighty scare.

Final spurt
Topping the table until April, Broos's side showed plenty of battle throughout the campaign, but were finally undone in the final straight, with Anderlecht underlining their title credentials by scoring 19 goals in their last three games. It was a relief for Vercauteren, who was once Broos's assistant as Anderlecht coach, but a bitter blow for Genk.

Brave battle
"Obviously to miss out on the title is a disappointment," said Broos, a team-mate of Vercauteren's from the Anderlecht sides that won UEFA European Cup Winners' Cups in 1976 and 1978. "We fought for it a long time but unfortunately suffered our first home defeat in 18 months. But we played very well and made life very hard for Anderlecht. In the end, experience made the difference."

Next steps
Defeat against Standard in the semi-finals of the Belgian Cup soured Anderlecht's season somewhat, but general manager Herman Van Holsbeeck is now looking forward with hope. "We are working on something great with this squad and this is only the start," he said. "We want everyone to stay, and to re-enforce in two or three positions."

Last updated: 13/05/07 20.52CET

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