READ ALSO. OUR JUDGMENT. Striking comeback from Mrabti, also a star role for Walsh
Football returned to the Belgian fields with the eighth finals of the Croky Cup and with it Lucas Bijker and Kerim Mrabti in the base at KV Mechelen, both recovered from a serious knee injury. It had been since last season’s Europe Play-offs that the duo played again in an official match. Due to the injuries of Peyre and Van Hoorenbeeck, Dimitri Lavalée was also allowed to take up position again in the center of the back. Yannick Thoelen once again got his chance under the crossbar in the cup from coach Defour.
It’s been a long time since we saw a match on such a slippery field. The rain made it difficult for both teams to keep the ball in the team and then decided to pin each other. Only after twenty minutes of play did we get to see a first noteworthy attempt with a slider from Schoofs, which went just wide. A little later, Schoofs and Storm started a promising combination, but the latter couldn’t get the ball back to Da Cruz.
No, the Malinwa in the first half didn’t seem to just walk over Seraing. Was it the rainy conditions or the fact that players like Mrabti were still looking for their rhythm after months of inactivity? Tshibuabua, the rock in the surf at the back of the visitors, was also difficult to pass. Verstraete almost seemed to make it difficult for his own team by suffering a stupid loss of possession just outside his own sixteen. Fortunately for yellow-red, Vagner’s shot was not framed. Going into half time with a dismal 0-0, as Storm could not control a cross from Walsh in one time.
Mrabti immediately of gold value
The body language of all Malinois spoke volumes, including that of the trainer. The second half had to be better. Thoelen’s encouraging shouts reinforced that motto. After less than five minutes in the second period, Da Cruz already had the 1-0 after a nice interplay between Walsh and Mrabti, but he hit the side net. The ranting Thoelen apparently had an immediate effect, because KV now grabbed Seraing by the throat.
On the hour the 1-0 fell deserved for the home team. Kerim Mrabti, of all people, headed a cross from Hairemans over goalkeeper Martin. The Swede was visibly emotional and was immediately replaced with applause five minutes later. His excellent form and energy from last season is not yet there – understandably -, but Mrabti was immediately worth gold upon his return. Malede, Mrabti’s replacement, came into the squad, causing Da Cruz to move back a row. It showed once again how sparse the Mechelen front line is when it comes to a pure deep striker.
The fact that KV Mechelen had enough with a goal from Mrabti was also due to the poor game of the Liege players. Only the industrious Vagner still weighed on the defense of Mechelen, but that was not expressed in great opportunities. Storm tried three times to double the score from a sharp angle, but in vain. KV Mechelen converts without too many problems.
READ ALSO. REACTIONS. Captain Schoofs: “Not our best match, but only the qualification counts”