The people of Antwerp are living through a dark season.
But nothing is yet folded on the side of Kontich even if they no longer have their fate in their hands. There are 3 games left to ensure their place in the Division of Honor and thus avoid the disaster of a descent into D1 for the club.
Ie Beerschot caused a sensation in 2019 by reaching the playoffs final and being, on the verge of winning his first national title since 1944. But today, the situation is quite different. And the atmosphere is clearly not at the party, in Kontich, after an appalling season. The Antwerpers occupy the penultimate place in the general classification 3 days from the end of the regular phase. But with 17 points, and only 4 successes in 19 games, the future of the Bee is really very uncertain. “Right from the start of the competition, we had some difficulty getting into it,” explains Arthur De Sloover, one of the team’s executives. “With a new coach and a new central midfielder, it took us some time to find a rhythm and the first round was quite complicated. Next, we took advantage of a very good winter camp in Barcelona which we followed up with a great victory at the Dragons, on the restart. But the machine seized up again afterwards and the ball didn’t roll for us. Now, the point we won last Sunday against Leopold gives us a lot of confidence even if we remain in an unfavorable situation. »
While the ambitions for the month of September were to finish in the first part of the table and above all to find some stability for the future, nothing turned out as hoped. The arrival of the new coach, Pim Wijzenbeek, should have made it possible to take new steps, but the transition, after 5 seasons with John Goldberg at the head of the team, was not so easy to operate. “It is true that the working methods and the philosophy of play are new and that the group had to adapt”, continues the central defender of the Red Lions. “With John, the group had a say in a lot of things, that was no longer the case with the Dutchman. However, Pim brought us all his tactical experience and his vision after his experiences in the Netherlands and the United States. »
But for ten days and the duel against Daring, the Dutchman has taken a step aside for personal reasons. It was therefore the T2, James Lawson, helped by John Goldberg, who took over the reins of the team. “Unconsciously, it obviously plays in people’s minds. But, in the end, it didn’t really change our daily lives. Since the break, we haven’t been playing hockey well enough collectively. We need to look in the mirror and regain the energy of warriors. This is what we have also proposed as a face against Waterloo Ducks and Leopold. »
The descent to D1 would be catastrophic for the club
There are therefore 3 matches to be played, on the road, for Beerschot (against Racing, Braxgata and Antwerp). Three finals to regret nothing and avoid the descent as in 2008. The oldest club in the Division of Honor (with Leopold) then made an express return trip to D1. An outcome that would be truly catastrophic according to Arthur De Sloover. ” It will be very complicated even if we all believe in maintaining despite the fact that we no longer have our fate in our hands. If we want to have a chance of contesting the play-offs, we will have to, at least, sign a 4 out of 9. This Sunday, we will therefore have nothing to lose during our visit to Racing. Achieve a flawless? It’s always possible but you have to be realistic. It is no coincidence that we are penultimate after 19 meetings. If we were to go down, it would be a real disaster for the club. »
The group would therefore sign with both hands to receive this opportunity to compete in the play-offs (10th place) against a D1 club to ensure its maintenance among the Elite. “If the Bee were to go down, I would leave the club because it would be impossible to prepare for the 2023 World Cup by playing in Division 1. But if we hold on, I would stay here, that’s for sure! Beerschot and Arthur De Sloover won’t give up for the next 210 minutes. But they will also cross their fingers hoping for missteps from Daring and Orée to give them, very willingly, this current 11th place. That of the second descendant…
By Laurent Toussaint (Le Soir)