Van Bommel found Antwerp to 'seem a bit arrogant': 'But we weren't'

Antwerp FC still has work to do to reach the Belgian Cup final. Coach Mark van Bommel saw his team draw at KV Oostende, which plays in the second tier. 'The squad is different from last season, but I want to get the maximum out of it again.'

SoccerDino, Website Writer
Published: 11:36, 9 Feb 2024

Oostende, currently positioned fourteenth in the Challenger Pro League, has demonstrated a remarkable ability to defy expectations in the Croky Cup.

Their journey through the tournament has been nothing short of spectacular, as they managed to eliminate KAS Eupen, RC Genk, and RWDM all formidable opponents from the Pro League. This string of upsets has not only showcased Oostende's resilience and tactical prowess but also set the stage for an intriguing encounter with Antwerp, a team that found itself struggling to secure a win. The first leg of their clash, marked by goals from Ewan Henderson and Mahamadou Diarra, ended in a draw, indicating that the battle for a spot in the final is far from over.

Mark van Bommel, Antwerp's coach, in his reflection on the team's performance, offered a candid assessment during an interview with Het Belang van Limburg. He suggested that Antwerp's approach might have appeared too nonchalant or even arrogant to some observers, a perception he quickly dispelled. According to Van Bommel, while the team's focus was unwavering, their technical execution fell short, highlighting a momentary lapse in concentration that ultimately benefited Oostende, turning the match into a back-and-forth affair that did not favor Antwerp.

The narrative took a personal turn with Jelle Bataille, a former Oostende player, who faced his previous team. Bataille's post-match comments revealed a mix of disappointment and accountability, particularly reflecting on a moment of premature complacency after Antwerp took the lead. His acknowledgment of a "shameful performance" underscores the high stakes and emotional intensity surrounding the fixture.

Looking ahead, the return match at De Bosuil promises to be a critical juncture for both teams. Van Bommel's ambition to replicate last season's success and reach the final in Brussels remains undiminished, despite the evident challenges. His determination to extract the best from a squad that has undergone changes since last season speaks to his adaptability and leadership qualities. Moreover, Van Bommel's gracious nod to Oostende's "incredible effort and fighting spirit" is a testament to the respect earned by the underdogs through their impressive cup run.

As the countdown to the decisive return leg begins, both Antwerp and Oostende are acutely aware of what is at stake. For Antwerp, it is an opportunity to validate their credentials and ambition under Van Bommel's guidance. For Oostende, it represents a chance to continue their fairy-tale journey in the Croky Cup, further cementing their reputation as giant-killers. The upcoming clash at De Bosuil is not just a football match; it's a narrative of aspiration, resilience, and the unpredictable nature of the beautiful game.

Updated: 11:36, 9 Feb 2024