Healthy nerves at Antwerp and Van Bommel for a potential title match: “If you’re so close to it, you have to grab it”


Royal Antwerp FC can win the first national title since 1957 on Sunday and the players and trainer of the oldest football club in our country have known this. “Everywhere I go, I am addressed about it. But it lives more outside the club than inside”, Mark van Bommel, who feels healthy nerves, tells us two days before the possible title match against Union SG.

Hannes Van Gael

Yes, Champions League winner Mark van Bommel still feels nervous before a match. “Always! Whether it’s for a cup final, for the title match or just in the competition. But in a positive sense”, said the Dutch coach at his most attended press conference since his presentation at Antwerp. Striking: not a single Dutch journalist is present. “They will be there on Sunday. Just assume that!”

Making fans happy

On Sunday, Antwerp and Union will play their sixth mutual game of the season. “We no longer have secrets from each other. They can keep it stable in the back and so can we, just as we both want to bring attacking football. We have already had closed matches against Union, but also very open matches. I just hope it will be a great game and that our fans will go home very happy.”

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And that is only possible with a win and therefore the title. “Nobody expected us to be in this situation before this season. If you are so close to it, you have to grab it (the title, ed.). There is no guarantee that it will work, but it is a great opportunity. If we don’t win, there might be another chance.”

Praise for Toby

Van Bommel does not yet know whether he can appeal to doubtful Ritchie De Laet on Sunday. Kobe Corbanie is definitely out. At Union it is mainly a matter of watching whether Teddy Teuma is ready to play. “It doesn’t make much difference to us. He is their top player and the coach will be happy to have him there, but there are other players who can make up for his absence. We also had to do without Calvin Stengs at the start of these play-offs.”

Who is sure to be there on Sunday: captain Toby Alderweireld. After the cup, the captain also wants to bring the national championship to ‘his’ Antwerp. “It is very nice to have a player like Toby in your team. I’m glad he came back. And he’s not here to take it easy, but to win prizes. We have already won the cup together, this (the title, ed.) Would be great.”

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