Rock bottom Zulte Waregem managed to grab a huge three points away to local rivals Kortrijk in the Saturday afternoon kick off. It was thanks to a fine second-half performance that Mbaye Leye’s side showed some fight to come back from 1-0 down to ultimately win 3-1.
Kortrijk manager Adnan Custovic was without Alexander Radovanovic, with on loan Antwerp centre back Dorian Dessoleil coming in to replace him. Apart from that one change, it was the same side that had lost 2-1 to Genk the previous week. Mbaye Leye’s Zulte Waregem were a much changed side, as the manager looked for the XI that could end their losing streak. Louis Bostyn returned in goal for the experienced Sammy Bossut, with Moudou Tambedou, Lasse Vigen Christensen, Novatus Disma and Alessandro Ciranni also coming into the side. Up front, Nnamdi Chinonso Offor also came in.
Despite the changes, Kortrijk looked the side with greater impetus to start the game. Custovic clearly wanted his side to get the ball into the box at any opportunity, and they twice forced good saves from Sammy Bossut early on. Zulte Waregem’s midfield were struggling to get their foot on the ball, however the side did have the best chance of the early minutes. Foreshadowing what was to come, a corner played into the near post was flicked on by Jelle Vossen, only for Alieu Fadera to miss an open goal at the back post.
This proved to be costly, as Kortrijk finally made their crosses count. Good work from Didier Lamkel Ze led to a Kristof D’Haene cross which was well attacked by on loan Lyon midfielder Habib Keita. Keita was too strong for 19 year-old Lukas Willen and put the ball past a hapless Bostyn. Despite dominating possession, Kortrijk could not find a second goal. The away side did have another chance to equalise, when a ball from Vossen found Fadera, who dinked it over Marko Ilic, only for Tsuyoshi Watanabe to clear it off the line. The follow up was blazed over by Offor, one of a number of chances the striker failed to convert.
At half time it was clear that Zulte Waregem needed something to change. The second half felt like a completely different team. There was more desire to attack and the midfield started to get on the ball more. Offor missed another great chance, before an earlier corner routine paid off. Vossen once again won the near post flick, and despite a good save from Illic, Tambedou was there at the back post to tuck the ball in to an empty net. The goal appeared to finally lift the confidence of a side that hadn’t won a game since the end of July.
Another set piece five minutes later saw the away side take the lead. Nicolas Rommens ball in found Offor, who headed home to grab a goal his play deserved. Kortrijk seemed stunned, with their first half tactic of early crosses being well dealt with by a far more confident Zulte Waregem side. They fashioned very little in the second half, despite Zulte Waregem being happy to sit back and allow them to play.
The game was finally put to bed in the 87th minute, when Oleksii Sych fouled Fadera in the box. Zinho Gano, with his first touch of the game, stepped up to coolly convert the spot kick, much to the despair of those Kortrijk fans who had once seen him do the same for them.
With the final whistle, it was clear how important this victory was for the side. The entire squad, management staff and fans were buoyant. Looking at the wider picture, regardless of results this week the side will remain bottom. However, this win gave a beleaguered side confidence that it can win again. They will just be hoping it’s not two more months till they win again.
For their opponents Kortrijk, this performance and defeat means that they have only won one of their last five games, which was a surprise victory over Royal Antwerp. They will hope they can bounce back in the midweek against a Charleroi side who are also coming off the back of a defeat.