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Gent look to keep good times rolling

Coach Francky Drury has been talking up the significance of KAA Gent's play-off with Feyenoord as the 2009/10 Belgian Cup winners look to build on that success with a run in Europe.

Gent's Roy Myrie Medrano (left) challenges Georginio Wijnaldum in the first leg against Feyenoord
Gent's Roy Myrie Medrano (left) challenges Georginio Wijnaldum in the first leg against Feyenoord ©Getty Images

There may have been a touch of poetic licence when coach Francky Dury described KAA Gent's UEFA Europa League showdown with Feyenoord as "maybe the most important match in the club's history" but there is no disputing the fact the stakes are high for a Belgian side living one of their finest moments.

Gent had a season to remember in 2009/10 when they finished runners-up in the Belgian First League – for only the second time and 55 years after the first – and claimed silverware in the form of their third domestic Cup. Although coach Michel Preud'homme has since moved on, his replacement Dury is hoping they can build on those feats by succeeding where they failed in the last two campaigns – with a long run in Europe.

Gent suffered qualifying defeats in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup and 2009/10 UEFA Europa League and, moreover, were overrun 6-1 on aggregate by FC Dynamo Kyiv in the third round of UEFA Champions League qualifying this season. Yet they have the chance to make amends on Thursday night when they welcome Feyenoord to the Jules Otten Stadion aiming to overturn last week's 1-0 first-leg defeat. The Buffalos held out for 78 minutes at De Kuip before Leroy Fer struck for Feyenoord yet Dury took heart from that display and said: "When we have a good day ourselves, we can beat this team. Thursday could be the most important match in the history of our club."

That history goes back as far as 1864 with their founding as the Association Athlétique La Gantoise, a name that became Koninklijke Atletiekassociatie (KAA) Gent in Flemish, which translates as Royal Athletics Association of Gent. Back in the early days the club offered a wide range of sports, including gymnastics, athletics, cricket and boxing. Football was introduced only in 1900 and the club's nickname came into being soon after when the legendary William Cody, aka Buffalo Bill, visited the city with the Barnum and Bailey circus, his cry of "Buffalo! Buffalo!" being adopted by Gent's supporters.

Gent warmed up for Feyenoord's visit with a 3-1 win at R. Charleroi SC on Sunday – their third victory in four league outings this season. Yaya Soumahoro scored the equalising goal and set up Gent's second and the Ivory Coast attacker is optimistic they can come from behind too against Feyenoord. "If we are focused right from the kick-off we certainly stand a chance against Feyenoord," he said. "Qualification is not a dream."