“Genk is the favorite, but we start on a par”

The Grand Final of the Belgian U21 Cup will take place on Saturday, 11 May in the Eupen Kehrweg Stadium. KAS Eupen will take on KRC Genk from 3:00 PM, admission to the game is free. KRC Genk is also considered one of the best clubs in the country in the youth sector and is therefore the favorite for this final. Nevertheless, Angel Cortes, KAS Eupen’s U21 coach, also sees chances for his team. The coach explained this in his interview about the game.

Was there any specific preparation for this final for your team?

No, we prepared this game just like all the other games. Only we did a more detailed analysis of the opponent, but there was nothing else special. When I see the attitude and intensity of my players in training, I am convinced that we are well prepared for this final.

Can you compete with the best cast on Saturday? 

With Ayoub El Harrak, Amadou Keita and Lucas Geurde, three of our midfielders are suspended. Boris Lambert and Rabbi Daudet Djongambo were also injured during the friendly against Seraing. But I don’t want to complain or look for excuses. Rather, we will do everything we can to win the game with the available players.

Will there be additional reinforcements from the first team? 

No, the only A squad players currently playing with us are Ignace N’Dri and Sibiry Keita, our two newcomers from Aspire Academy Sénégal and goalkeeper Manaf Nurudeen. But these are players who have already played for our U21 in the last weeks.

Introduce us briefly to your team, where do the players come from?

Most of them are players from the province of Liège who live at a maximum distance of 40 to 50 km from Eupen. Marciano Aziz lives in Eupen, then we have players from Aubel, from the Herve region and from the Verviers or Liège region. So it really is a team with strong regional roots. In addition, most of the players have completed most of their training at KAS Eupen. The fact that we are now reaching the Belgian Cup final for the second time since 2015 is a great success for the youth division of our club.

What are the tactics you will start the final with?

I don’t think that we are going to change much of our usual tactics. Eupen is a team that tries to play with ball possession, that’s our DNA. We are also a team that wants to play fast forward. That’s what we want to try at the finals.

Everyone assumes that KRC Genk is the big favorite for the final. Do you share this view?

I don’t know if there really is a favorite. Of course the statistics speak for KRC Genk. Because the people of Limburg have won this Belgian trophy several times in recent years, because they have a budget that exceeds ours many times over and because the club is known for its excellent youth work. But in one game everything is possible and I think we can compete with them.

The venue of the final is the Eupen Kehrweg Stadium, to what extent is this an advantage?

That will be a great advantage. I am sure that the support of the fans will release additional forces. We already felt that at the semi-final here in Eupen against OHL. And I also want to take this week’s Champions League match between Liverpool and Barça as a reference. Barça was the super favorite with a first leg result where everything had already been decided. In the end, Barça was eliminated and Liverpool entered the final. This is a good example of how big the role of the fans can be. Even though Genk is the favorite, I see us on a par.

Luis Garcia worked with your staff and the team this season. He promised to come back from Spain to Belgium to support the team if they ever reach the final. That’s exactly what happened now. What does it look like, is Luis able to keep his word?

Yes, Luis will come from Spain to see our final. He will land in Zaventem on Saturday at 11.30 AM and arrive at the stadium in time. His support is certainly an additional motivation for my team and the whole club.