Oostende take on the visitors Antwerp in the first leg of Belgian Cup semifinals. The match will be played on Thursday, February 8th at Diaz Arena (Oostende).
Ostend risks experiencing its second relegation in a row. De Kustboys are a relatively young project, founded in 1981. They debuted in the Jupiler League in the mid-90s. However, they only managed to establish themselves there in the last decade. After ascending in 2013, the team remained there for 10 seasons, even reaching the cup final in 2017. In general, they were a fairly solid mid-table team... until they unexpectedly plummeted last season, finishing last and getting relegated to the second division. However, relegation combined with the summer break didn't change much: poor statistics again, and bottom of the table. The chances of simply surviving are dwindling. Meanwhile, the team is gaining confidence in the cup! They started by thrashing Hanschoren 5-0. Then came October's 2-0 victory against Eupen away, followed by December's 3-1 win at home against Genk. After that, two unanswered goals at home against Molenbeek in the middle of last month were no longer surprising.
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Antwerp rightfully bear such a grandiose and doubled prefix. However, historically, the grand struggled through tough times, spending a long time in the second division, and even upon their return, they didn't emerge as leaders. To become number one, they needed a raid from neighboring Netherlands. The Belgians sheltered the controversial Overmars, who then invited van Bommel as head coach - and Mark surprised everyone by immediately achieving a golden double. Now, things aren't as rosy, and it's noteworthy that FIFA ordered Marcus to be dismissed here too. In the very first match, for the Super Cup, the favorite encountered problems, only defeating Mechelen in a penalty shootout. Yes, they qualified for the Champions League for the first time in history, but there, the debutant was beaten by everyone, from Barcelona to Shakhtar. Moreover, they're struggling to even grab hold of third place in the Belgian league, with the leader, Union, pulling ahead by more than ten points. The only hope is the cup, where after thrashing Charleroi, Leuven barely made it through with a 3-2 victory.
De Kustboys have only won once in their last 10 meetings. Moreover, Great Old have won four times in a row now. Everything could be decided in the return match. However, the current holders of the golden double have a very weak opponent. Let's bet that van Bommel's boys will win away.
Prediction for the match: Antwerp to win.