Beaten on matchday one, RSC Anderlecht have not looked back since and in joint-top scorer Aaron Leya Iseka have a player who could take them all the way in Nyon.
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The record crowds that have flocked in their thousands to the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium to watch RSC Anderlecht's UEFA Youth League side this season show how excited they are about the team's future.
The academy that nurtured the likes of Vincent Kompany and Romelu Lukaku is now providing the backbone of the senior squad, with Dennis Praet and Youri Tielemans turning heads across Europe. Success in the UEFA Youth League is even prompting supporters to recall Anderlecht's European heyday of the 1970s, with reason to believe the good times could be just around the corner again.
Anderlecht started the season playing their home matches in the tight confines of the Van Roy Stadium in Denderleeuw, but by the time they drew holders FC Barcelona in the last 16, interest had grown so large that the game was moved to Brussels. They attracted a competition record 12,871 for that 1-0 victory at the Constant Vanden Stock and then broke it when 13,162 witnessed their 5-0 demolition of FC Porto in the quarter-finals.
"The UEFA Youth League is very important for player development," said coach Mohamed Ouahbi, who this term has seen striker Aaron Leya Iseka make his first-team debut and midfielder Andy Kawaya impress in the UEFA Champions League. "Playing against the best teams in Europe is something you just do not do every day in the Belgian league. Playing against different styles is particularly important. From this group, three or four players will make it in the first team."
That, ultimately, is what it is all about. "[Reaching the semi-finals] is a reward for everyone who works with these guys away from the limelight on a daily basis," general manager Herman Van Holsbeeck said. "We have made huge efforts in recent years to get our youngsters to this level. This proves we are on the right track."
9: Anderlecht's No9 Leya Iseka is joint-top scorer on nine goals after notching a hat-trick in the quarters against Porto.
Name: Mohamed Ouahbi
Date of Birth: 07/09/1976
Ouahbi played football to amateur level and has been a youth coach at Anderlecht for 11 years, working across all age groups. "Our philosophy is that we want the ball and want to do something positive with it," he said. "These are great moments, but our goal remains to produce players for the first team. These experiences, of course, can only help with that."
Anderlecht's modern academy in Neerpede opened in 2011 and is less than two kilometres from their main stadium. Goalkeeper Mile Svilar, 15, has played in all eight European fixtures this campaign and is one of a number of exciting prospects.
Round of 16
Anderlecht 1-0 Barcelona
Anderlecht 5-0 Porto