After a difficult start, Westerlo goalkeeper Sinan Bolat is ready for a six-point match against Kortrijk: “Winning once can be enough to make the click”

A point on the Genk field, that is what they had signed for in advance at Westerlo. Yet Sinan Bolat was left with mixed feelings after the visit to his former club. Also because he had to turn around three times – never fun for a goalkeeper – but especially because Bolat had the feeling that there was more to be achieved in the Cegeka Arena. “In our situation we don’t actually make much progress with a point and then it hurts to see how easily that third goal comes. Once again we were punished for our own mistakes. In those phases we have to be even smarter and commit a foul to stop the counter-attack.”

Those mistakes with those goals conceded: it is a nail that was often knocked on last season.

Sinan Bolat: “It is difficult to give a simple explanation for this. Maybe we need to be a bit more dirty on the pitch, especially in the situation we are in now.”

Are there enough bastards in this core?

“If that is not the case, then we must continue to emphasize this. Emphasize every week that we have to react smarter, that we can take that yellow card. Now every mistake is punished and then you continue to struggle. If necessary, you should repeat that message every week. Starting with training: that’s where it starts, that’s where that intensity has to be present. You then take that feeling with you to the match. If necessary, you have to do everything you can to gain time or take control of the race.”

Do you see yourself playing a role there?

“I’m one of the guys who has to get the message across to the young players, yes. How do I do that? Talk a lot. Saying that they should not be afraid of making mistakes.”

You have also made a few mistakes yourself, such as against AA Gent. How do you deal with that?

“I’ve gotten to an age where something like that doesn’t stick in my head for two days anymore. It bothers you for a while, but then you have to forget about it. You can’t hide yourself or let your guard down. There’s no point in feeling guilty either. That reflects on the outside world and your teammates. And on yourself. That only makes you mentally weaker. It is important to make that click in your head. Otherwise you step onto the field with the idea: “Damn, what if I get one of those again?” Then after a while you no longer dare to play football. If you make another mistake, so be it. It almost happened again against Standard. Last season I kicked the ball maybe fifty times and almost all of them landed. Without that goal against Ghent, there was no talk about that phase against Standard.”

Apart from that, you played a strong match at Sclessin. Isn’t that extra nice at such a moment?

“I’m not concerned with that. I never go onto the field with feelings of revenge, but to help the team and with the idea that I will do 100% everything for that. After that match, I was more satisfied with the point for the team than with my own performance.”

What do you think of Westerlo’s level so far?

“I admit it was hit and miss. I had a bad start last year, but after that I had a good period. Once again the start was not the best. As a footballer it is difficult to stay at the same level for thirty games, this also applies to goalkeepers. Only we notice it more quickly. Other players can still have their mistakes corrected. A goalkeeper’s margin for error is much smaller.”

You had to forfeit against Anderlecht due to an injury.

“I had problems with my hip, a nasty injury. You can train for a few days without falling to spare your body, but if I fell in that spot once, the pain would come back. I tried anesthesia, but the pain remained. That injury lingered for a while.”

Then the coach put you on the bench for sporting reasons.

“That is frustrating for every goalkeeper, but it is his right to make that choice. During those matches I tried to get Nick (Gillekens, red) support as much as possible. At such a moment there is not much you can do other than keep working hard. If you express your frustrations or train less, you will turn against yourself and the situation will only get worse.”

In the match against Kortrijk it will be ‘do or die’.

“We try to win every match, but this one is just a little more important, that’s right. It’s time we keep the three points at home. That’s been far too long. Now, I am confident that we will soon be able to put this plight behind us. Winning once can be enough to make the connection.”

Six-point games are often mental games. How do you handle that?

“I look at it as much as possible as a normal match. Focusing too much on that match can also have a negative impact. Against Kortrijk it is important not to act hastily and to stay concentrated. If the scenario does not go as we want, we should not immediately start to panic.”

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