Old demons resurface at the Buffalos: AA Gent also sentenced to a tough catch-up race in 2023

Castro-Montes tries to get rid of Stengs. Ghent started promisingly on the Bosuil, but already fell away too strongly after fifteen minutes. — © BELGIUM

The Buffalos’ first game of the new year resulted in a sobering loss. After a promising opening fifteen minutes, Hein Vanhaezebrouck’s team lost too much. In the end, the Great Old turned out to be simply better in all facets of the game.

Stefan Smet

Afterwards, the Ghent coach soon seemed to reconcile himself with the defeat. His team did not give home to the Bosuil and that puts even more pressure on the kettle. Once again AA Gent seems to fall next to the top four. The Ghent club board also realizes that a new round of Europe play-offs will not exactly fill up the Ghelamco Arena.

On the contrary. Last year, AA Gent grabbed the top four in extremis. The Buffalos then put down an impressive series after the New Year. A draw at Cercle Brugge and a cameraman who was ten minutes late at his position, AA Gent then cost very dearly. Also in 2023, AA Gent seems to be condemned to a tough catch-up race if it still wants to claim a ticket for the Champions’ play-offs.

Unfortunately, the AA Gent of January 2023 shows many similarities with the team that finally stumbled last year in the battle for the Champions’ play-offs. Since we left the World Cup madness behind us, the Buffalos have already played three official games. In the cup meeting with Cercle Brugge, AA Gent was only able to get the job done in extra time. 180 minutes of football against Standard and Antwerp did not yield a single goal.

AA Gent was still poorly rewarded against the Rouches, but the cards were different in Antwerp. After that early opportunity from Kums who headed from close range on the crossbar, Antwerp keeper Butez remained unemployed for a long time. Only Hjulsager could threaten him again after the break. It was also Ghent’s only attempt on the goal frame. In between, Cuypers had also missed a dot of an opportunity. It was indicative of the team performance. AA Gent certainly showed commitment and surrender, but could not convert that into fluent combinations. All too often unnecessary loss of possession, too often sloppy play. The Ghent midfield therefore failed to get a grip on its direct opponents. The young Vermeeren was a constant scourge for De Sart and co. Castro-Montes struggles with a very unruly form curve, while Hong too often faced a numerical superiority of Antwerp players. In the front it turned out that Ibrahim Salah still lacks peace and overview too often, which means that he sometimes makes the wrong choices.

The biggest sore point was probably the performance of the Ghent defense. Okumu and Ngadeu saw their buddy Torunarigha fall out before the break with an ankle injury. That apparently didn’t excite them enough to then finish a heck of a second period. On the contrary. In the back it looked very shaky at AA Gent. Nardi actually also messed up just before half-time.

Crucial cup match

Another crucial cup match awaits a visit to Union on Thursday. This will be followed by two home games in the league, against Kortrijk and Charleroi respectively. Three games that absolutely must be won. January will then be closed with away matches against STVV and Cercle Brugge. So the Buffalos urgently need to get back on their feet. A repeat of last year’s meager 3 out of 12, when a strongly weakened AA Gent failed to win four times in a row in January, is out of the question. Because, like last year, having a 28 out of 30 recorded is no sinecure. Moreover, the competition is not standing still. For example, the Buffalo’s season threatens to turn into a sof early on. A thought that does not make anyone happy in the Ghelamco Arena.

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