Antwerp FC caused a stunt of stunt in the cup final against Club Brugge, but The Great Old could not continue that promising line in the first competition match against Mouscron. Ivan Leko’s team clearly lacked the necessary creative ideas and individual flashes against Les Hurlus. The Croatian coach kept cup hero Didier Lamkel Zé glued to the bench for 67 minutes, but in that short raid, the Cameroonian was by far the most threatening man on the Tawny Owl.
THE GOK OF LEKO
History repeated itself in Deurne-Noord at the start of this football season: due to some new antics, Didier Lamkel Zé made himself impossible at The Great Old again. The Cameroonian attacker therefore saw the summer internship in Germany overshoot and he even had to stay in the Antwerp B-core for weeks. It would imply the final end of the enfant terrible, but through an ultimate mediation of sporting boss Luciano D’Onofrio, Lamkel Zé decorated an ultimate last chance.
Until one week before the cup final against Club Brugge, Lamkel Zé had not yet had any training in the legs with the Antwerp first team. Nevertheless, Ivan Leko angled the unpredictable attacker in the match selection for the match of the year. That daring decision logically caused a lot of commotion in the national media, but the Croat went one step further and even dropped Lamkel Zé in the starting team against Blauw-Zwart. With all the (positive) consequences.
Lamkel Zé trotted uninhibitedly across the Heysel, and he was a constant scourge for the Bruges defense. Due to his infiltration capacity, insight and velvety technique, the 23-year-old was the big eye-catcher in the cup final, which meant that he played an enormously important part in the hard-fought victory. One week after the stunt against Club Brugge, the general expectation was that Leko would again opt for Lamkel Zé in the competition opener against Mouscron.
THE GOK OF LEKO (BIS)
Ivan Leko apparently likes surprises because in the first league match of the new season he chose newcomer Nill De Pauw over cup hero Lamkel Zé. Intrinsically, however, the Cameroonian has much more talent than the ex-player of Atromitos Athens, and it is therefore guesswork why Leko has conjured up exactly this substitution. Moreover, many questions have already been raised about De Pauw’s arrival in Antwerp: he would not immediately become the player who can take the team to a higher level.
Admittedly: against Mouscron, De Pauw was one of the most industrious forces at Antwerp, but the winger did not pose a great threat. Leko expressed his remarkable choice as follows. “A choice of the staff, based on what we saw at training this week. We choose the best eleven players according to the team. ” The Jupiler Pro League coaches are no strangers to clichés, but after the match, Leko may have regretted passing Lamkel Zé in favor of De Pauw. In the 23 minutes allotted, the Cameroonian was much more ready than the offensive players who started the match.
(LONG) WAITING FOR BAMKEL THEM
Mouscron coach Fernando Da Cruz did not make Antwerp FC easy: the Henegouwers descended towards the Bosuil with mainly defensive-oriented plans. The home team logically generated the largest share of the ball possession, that after 90 minutes on 61% was decided. During the competition, Antwerp often developed peaks up to even 75% and could also put Mouscron goalkeeper Hervé Koffi to work sufficiently. This happened several times through crosses or corner kicks, but rarely thanks to clean attacking patterns.
Les Hurlus forced Antwerp to let the defensive trio Junior Pius, Abdoulaye Seck and Ritchie De Laet play football, and that trio is not immediately recognized as the best footballing players in the Jupiler Pro League. Defensively, the central defenders were very strict but their constructive qualities are not exactly of a high level. This made it very difficult for The Great Old to set up fluid and dynamic attacks from minute one. In such matches, Antwerp is mainly dependent on flashes from Dieumerci Mbokani, Lior Refaelov and … Didier Lamkel Zé.
But neither the Congolese nor the Israeli were in the game and their performances were mainly characterized by wrong choices and misunderstandings. Just after half-time it looked like the game would finally break open after Refaelov made it 1-0 from the spot. However, that did not ensure that the Hainauts fully attacked. Mouscron continued to speculate on the counter and the mediocre football of Pius, Seck and De Laet. It was therefore expected for Lamkel Zé to come in to completely pull the match to the Antwerp side, but it took a very long time. Too long. With 23 minutes left on the clock, the time had come: Martin Hongla was called to the bench and Lamkel Zé was allowed to take his first competition minutes.
To get to a safe 2-0 lead, Ivan Leko waited until minute 67 to bring in the much needed creativity and attacking impulses from Lamkel Zé, which was also the first Antwerp substitution of the match. By procrastinating for too long, the chance of the proverbial lid on the nose increases, and that actually happened barely two minutes later. Marko Bakic masterfully painted a long shot into Jean Butez’s goal: 1-1 instead of 2-0. Antwerp was allowed to start all over again.
Under the impulse of substitute Lamkel Zé, The Great Old led the forcing, but it was no longer scoring. It was striking that the most danger always came from the Cameroonian, who clearly had much more to offer than starter Nill De Pauw. The Cameroonian was able to play in 23 minutes four offensive actions noted, while De Pauw got to five in eighty minutes. In addition, Lamkel’s companies were Zé fifty percent passed – only Aurélio Buta did better – and De Pauw’s only 40 percent.
After the logical input of Lamkel Zé, Leko made two more changes. The Croat put more offensive pressure by dropping Bruny Nsimba (80 ‘) Manuel Benson (85’), but that change came so far too late. How meticulous and successful was Leko’s tactical plan in the cup final against Club Brugge, so unconvincing and conservative was his battle plan against Mouscron. To make Antwerp a dominant and attacking efficiency team, a few more reinforcements may therefore be expected. But maybe let Lamkel Zé start on Sunday against Cercle Bruges, Ivan?
POLL: Should Leko let him start against Cercle Brugge?