KV Mechelen v Kortrijk Preview | Time running out for Vincent Tan’s Kortrijk as Mechelen remain hopeful of a top six finish

KV Mechelen host Kortrijk on Saturday evening with hopes that a win will keep them in the hunt for a top six finish. The side looked certain to be embroiled in a relegation battle until Besnik Hasi came in and steadied the ship. Since his appointment, the side have transformed their season and are now an unlikely candidate to end the season as a top six side. The gap to Cercle Brugge in sixth sits at just four points, with the two sides set to face each other in a weeks time.

For Kortrijk, owned by Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan, they are well and truly in the relegation battle. After a slight upturn in form under new head coach Freyr Alexandersson, the side have now lost two on the bounce and remain seven points adrift of safety with four games to go. Escaping the bottom four is unlikely, but any points they pick up now will help them when the relegation play-offs start at the end of the regular season. If they can end that in 14th place, they have a second chance of survival via the play-off against a side from the Challenger Pro League. The current gap to 14th is just four points.

Mechelen are in good form however. The addition of Islam Slimani to the line-up last time out against Antwerp proved crucial, as he set up the only goal of the game from Kerim Mrabti. The veteran striker’s intelligent runs and ability to hold the ball up was vital in the sides desire to play on the counter. In Rob Schoofs, they also have one of the top performing central midfielders in the Belgian Pro League. The club captain has four assists and six goals in 24 games this season.

Those six goals are as many as Kortrijk’s top scorer Isaak Davies has managed this season. The forward on loan from Cardiff City has scored six in 22, adding the sixth during their recent 3-1 defeat to Union St Gilloise. The side have been goal shy this season, with just 18 in 26 games. With 51 shipped at the other end, their goal difference is a miserable -33. While the defence has somewhat improved under Alexandersson, if they cannot manage to find the net regularly in the remaining four games they have little hope of remaining in with a fighting chance of survival.

GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson

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