With nine straight UEFA Champions League group stage defeats, one would expect confidence to be low in the RSC Anderlecht camp. However, this is palpably not the case when 17-year-old Belgian international full-back Anthony Vanden Borre speaks.
The teenager not only believes his team can still qualify for the knockout phase despite defeats in their opening games, he says they can still top Group G. "Liverpool [FC] and Chelsea [FC] are only four points in front of us," he said. "We should still believe we can target first place." Fellow defender Hannu Tihinen has a different take on the situation, however, the Finnish international telling uefa.com: "Now we've got to play to get our first point on the board and score some goals. Two matches this season, two defeats, no goals scored: we have to react in a professional manner."
Last season, the Brussels club became only the fifth side in UEFA Champions League history to lose all six of their group games. They are determined to avoid a repeat this campaign, and the opening two fixtures have given grounds for optimism. "All things come to an end one day," said captain Pär Zetterberg. At Chelsea on Matchday 1, only the post denied Vanden Borre the goal which would have earned a point, and while Anderlecht rode their luck against Real Betis Balompié at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium on Matchday 2 - the Spaniards hit the woodwork five times - they could have won the game had they scored during their period of dominance after half-time.
Coach Frank Vercauteren now faces two matches against holders Liverpool, the first of which is in Brussels on Wednesday. "It won't be easy," said the former Belgian international. "But we'll give it our all and hope to cause an upset.
We have to be realistic and say that it's going to be very difficult now to qualify even if mathematically everything remains possible."
With young firebrands like Vanden Borre still refusing to give up, there is still hope for Anderlecht. The club are eager to make amends for recent European failures and with a reported win bonus of around €20,000 per man for Champions League games, they should not lack motivation in Brussels.
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