Mark McKenzie
photo: Imago / Johan Eyckens

Belgian Play-Offs Recap: Title to be Decided on Sunday; Vines & McKenzie in the Hunt

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It looks like the new Belgian champions will be decided on the very last day of the playoffs after the top two teams played to a tie, while Mark McKenzie and Genk battled back to give themselves a good chance of claiming the title.

Club Brugge 1 – 3 Genk

After taking the lead in the first half, Club got back on terms before the Smurfs exploded for a couple more to put them within reach of their fifth Belgian title, celebrating their last one four years ago.

McKenzie was in the starting line-up and went the distance, but was not able to add to his play-offs leading three goals. Those were supplied by Joseph Paintsil, his 15th and 16th of the season, while defensive midfielder Patrik Hrošovský scored a rare one. Club’s came from captain Hans Vanaken.

The visitors started the game like a home team would; pushing forward immediately in search of the opener. Daniel Muñoz should have given them the lead before the clock struck ten minutes but his header in the box went wide of the post. A minute later at the other end, however, the American defender conceded a corner and Vanaken should have done better but he too, headed it wide.

Just one more minute later, however, it was the Smurfs who were celebrating. After Tolu Arokodare picked out his Ghanaian teammate, Paintsil got his shot off from the middle of the 18-yard box and slotted it into the bottom left-hand corner.

It took until the second half for the defending champions to find a reply and when they did, it came 20 minutes after the intermission. This time Vanaken was more successful with his header and beat Belgian keeper Maarten Vandevoordt, using his head to place it into the top left-hand corner.

With less than 10 minutes left on the clock, Genk found what turned out to be the winner, from the foot of their Slovak international. Then five minutes later, Paintsil scored his second of the night.

The Blauw-Zwart thought that they had gotten themselves a lifeline but in the 95th minute, after VAR was consulted, they overturned Mats Rits goal, thus leaving the referee to blow his whistle with Genk taking all three points.

On Sunday the title will be decided. League leaders Royal Antwerp will travel to Genk and a RAFC win will give them the title. If Genk were to win, their title would depend on whether Club can keep USG from winning.

Westerlo 1 – 3 Gent

Having already blown their chances with previous results, Bryan Reynolds and Westerlo hosted the group winners and unceremoniously ended up tasting defeat yet again. The American defender was back in the starting line-up and went the distance, but young Griffin Yow was only given a few garbage minutes, coming off the bench with just two minutes remaining on the clock.

Former Belgian international, Nacer Chadli put the hosts ahead in the 23rd minute with a shot from outside the box but just four minutes later it was all square after Andrew Hjulsager buried his shot into the back of the net.

Two more late second-half Gent goals ended the evening with Hugo Cuypers scoring in the 75th minute, then Tarik Tissoudali putting the game to bed in the 81st.

Westerlo’s finale and most likely the end of Reynold’s Belgian adventure (back to AS Roma?) will be on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Brugge to take on Cercle.


In the game of the weekend, first and second place Royal Antwerp and Union Saint Gilloise battled it out and shared the spoils in this 1-1 result. Sam Vines still wasn’t on the team sheet, so it’s unlikely that he will be in the season finale either when the Great Old travels east to take on Genk.

Marlon Fossey took no part in Standard Liege’s 4-0 drumming at the hands of Cercle Brugge, although neither team had anything but pride to play for as Gent has already clinched the top spot in the group. Next up however les Rouches will travel to Gent and hopefully spoil their party.


Michael Adubato

The old man of Yanks-Abroad, having been around since the very beginning in 2004, Known as the resident Belgian expert since that’s where he has lived for a couple of decades. Over the years he has interviewed Nats such as Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Oguchi Onyewu, Jozy Altidore and Tim Weah, to name a few. When not working the day job, he can often be found in stadiums around Europe, watching games from the top flight to the lower leagues. To prove that he is not just a pretty face, Mike received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland and a Masters from the University of Oklahoma. Boomer Sooner! On a non-soccer note, Adubato has just released a book of poetry from his travels, Missing the Exit, published by Broken Keys Publishing in Ottawa, Canada. So that must make him the YA poet laureate! You can grab your copy on, order online and pick it up and Barnes & Noble or get an e-copy at various outlets.

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