Charleroi must address goalscoring issue to avoid sleepwalking into relegation

Before the Belgian Pro League 2023/2024 season started, Charleroi would not have expected to be hovering just above the relegation play-offs by the end of January. The Zebras had brought back Felice Mazzu in the hopes of bringing the good times back that he had provided during his previous tenure. However, this Charleroi side are no where near the Union side that Mazzu thrilled everyone with. These Zebras are goal shy.

The side are third from bottom when it comes to goals per game, with just 22 from 21 games. Only bottom side Kortrijk and another struggling Belgian giant Standard Liege have faired worse. They are level with RWDM, KV Mechelen and Eupen, all of whom have known goalscoring issues.

In the summer, Palestinian forward Oday Dabbagh was signed in the hopes that he would be the one to find the net. However, he has managed just four goals in 17 games. 22-year-old Serbian striker Nikola Stulic, who joined the side in January of 2023 after scoring 12 goals in 37 games for Radnicki Nis, has only scored once in 17 games. Former Club Brugge striker Youssouph Badji was also signed permanently after he ended last season on a minor goal scoring streak. However, in 13 league games this season, he is yet to find the net.

Thankfully for Mazzu, the defence had held solid for most of the season. However, last weekends 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Antwerp was another wake-up call. Their 34 goals in 21 games is better than any of the sides below them, yet they are starting to have a math problem. They are averaging 1.6 goals conceded per game after the weekend. To make things easier, they face a free scoring Club Brugge at the weekend, with the blue and black half of Brugge having one of the best defences.

If Charleroi don’t address this problem in the next few days, they could be in serious trouble. On paper, their run in is not too bad, as they have a chance to face other sides in and around them. Yet these six pointers could well be the nail in the coffin. If the real fear of relegation hasn’t set in amongst the Charleroi management yet, they are destined to sleepwalk into relegation.

GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson

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