Marc Wilmots names Belgium squad to face FYR Macedonia
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots has announced a 25-man squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifying double-header against FYR Macedonia. Jelle Vossen and Sébastien Pocognoli are handed recalls but there is no place for Cagliari midfielder Radja Nainggolan, in-form Genk leftback Derrick Tshimanga or veteran striker Igor De Camargo. Nacer Chadli and Vincent Kompany have both been named in the squad although neither are currently 100% fit. Wilmots says the Manchester City and Belgium captain is 50/50 and that while the player is keen to play and his injury is healing well, they won’t take any undue risks with his fitness. Georges Leekens’ successor also made it clear that Thomas Vermaelen’s recent poor form for Arsenal, which culminated in him being dropped for the Bayern game, will have no bearing on his prospects for the national team. Vermaelen has come under some pressure lately due to the outstanding form of Spurs centreback Jan Vertonghen, who currently occupies the leftback slot. Vertonghen will be backed up by Hannover man Pocognoli, whom Wilmots believes has made big strides since moving to the Bundesliga in terms of his overall fitness, discipline and passing [Ed: though he was sent off on his debut!].
FIFA have also announced their latest world rankings with Belgium at 19, one place behind Brazil.
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Sunderland), Jean-François Gillet (Torino)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Ajax), Laurent Ciman, Jelle van Damme (Standard Liège), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Daniel van Buyten (Bayern München), Jan Vertonghen (Spurs), Sébastien Pocognoli (Hannover 96)
Midfielders: Steven Defour (FC Porto), Timmy Simons (1. FC Nürnberg), Axel Witsel (Zenit), Mousa Dembélé (Spurs), Marouane Fellaini (Everton), Nacer Chadli (FC Twente)
Attackers: Kevin De Bruyne (Werder Bremen), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Dries Mertens (PSV), Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Jelle Vossen (Racing Genk), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Romelu Lukaku (West Brom).
[Guillaume Gillet withdrew 18/03, Nicolas Lombaerts withdrew 19/03, Jelle van Damme was then called up]
Johan Walem names Belgium u21 squad to face Cyprus
Belgium u21 coach Johan Walem also took the opportunity this morning to name 23 players for his side’s first Euro 2015 qualifier against Cyprus.
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Hoffenheim), Colin Coosemans (Waasland-Beveren), Matz Sels (Lierse)
Defenders: Pierre-Yves Ngawa (Sint-Truiden), Dino Arslanagic (Standard Liège), Bruno Godeau (Zulte Waregem), Jonathan Vervoort (FC Eindhoven), Michaël Heylen, Jordan Lukaku (both Anderlecht), Laurens De Bock (Club Brugge).
Midfielders: Ibrahima Cissé, Paul-José Mpoku (both Standard Liège), Massimo Bruno, Dennis Praet (both Anderlecht), Junior Malanda, Thorgan Hazard (both Zulte Waregem), Hannes van der Bruggen (KAA Gent), Maxime Lestienne (Club Brugge), Brice Ntambwe (Mons), Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco (AS Monaco).
Attackers: Michy Batshuayi (Standard Liège), Igor Vetokele (FC København), Dylan De Belder (Mons).
Vadis still hopes to move to the Premier League
Club Brugge midfielder Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe has not let the disappointment of his failed summer move to Everton put him off moving to English football. Speaking on Belgian chatshow Café Corsari, the Belgian international said when asked where he would like to play outside of Belgium:
“Spain for the weather but England for the football. (England) remains my dream, I have made that clear before. My focus is completely on doing well at Club Brugge and any ambitions after that will look after themselves.”
KAA Gent want to keep Victor Fernández
KAA Gent technical director Michel Louwagie has said he wants Spanish coach Victor Fernández to lead the club into their new Arteveldestadion. The ex-Zaragoza and Real Betis boss has stopped the rot and also tightened De Buffalo’s up at the back. Louwagie, who has already let Trond Sollied and Bob Peeters go this season, was gushing with praise for Fernández and said the Spaniard won him over after his first training session due to his methodical nature, charisma and sense of authority. It therefore does not come as a shock that Fernández has a degree in philosophy.
Standard chairman Duchâtelet ready to save Tubize
With second division side Tubize in desperate need of €400,000 in order to receive a licence for next season, a knight in shining armour has arrived in the form of Standard Liège owner Roland Duchâtelet. The ex-STVV chairman is never one to miss an opportunity and he has offered to help the club, who played one season in the Pro League back in 2008-09), in exchange for having first option on the best young players in Tubize’s highly rated youth system. Thorgan and Eden Hazard both spent their formative years there before moving across the border to Lille.
Lierse put Eric van Meir in charge
After guaranteeing Pro League football for next season, Lierse have once again decided to shuffle the pack in terms of their backroom staff. Technical manager Hany Ramzy, who was presented as a manager in the English sense of the word (i.e. akin to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United for instance) and working above but alongside two first-team coaches, has been moved elsewhere to oversee the wider development of all clubs under the Wadi Degla umbrella. Eric van Meir, who only recently returned to the club where he won the championship in 1997, now takes charge along with his assistant Daniel Simmes.