AA Gent loses last practice match on stage and sees Okumu drop out

Koen Van Uytvange in Austria

A string of players at Ghent turned out not to be fit for the action. Depoitre still struggled with minor aches and pains and kept walking, as did De Sart and Godeau. Also in the stands: Marreh, Owusu (who sustained a minor hamstring injury during training) and Hanche-Olsen, who is still completing an individual program after going over the limit at the end of last season.

As a result, 18-year-old Bram Lagae was again left in the defensive trio. In the air he stood his ground, in the build-up he walked a little less before half time. He was involved in the only goal against, just after half an hour. Because both Ngadeu and Lagae went too weak on a deep ball from Aris, Roef had to come out. He had the ball, but took attacker Panagiadis into the spin. The ref pointed to the spot, Garcia converted the penalty. Or how AA Gent swallowed a sour goal in a half in which the defensive line was solid.

Against the too burly Greeks – the Senegalese Cheikh was replaced by his own coach because he went in too hard a few times – the Buffalos should have scored. But the finishing touch was missing, which is not so strange after an already tough internship. Gianni Bruno found the goalkeeper in his way, as did a very busy Kums. Hjulsager also couldn’t get the ball in after one of his typical rooting actions. The best chance should have been for Cuypers, after barely ten minutes. Sent away by Kums, a whistle suddenly sounded. Cuypers stopped the action, but the signal turned out to come from Aris’s couch. Greek spoilage, as AA Gent experienced months ago from city rival PAOK.

At halftime, Vanhaezebrouck kept Lagae, Odjidja, Hjulsager and Bruno in the dressing room and pushed Nurio to the three-man defence. Immediately Aris forced Roef to make a good save, but again it was Ghent that forgot to score. Cuypers – who nevertheless constantly put good pressure – found the goalkeeper on his way after a Tissoudali flash. Fofana was also unable to take advantage of it. With the 17-year-old attacker and Tissoudali there, the attack looked more flashy, but there were no real great opportunities. Worse was that Okumu had to leave with a head injury, which meant that the substituted Lagae came in again.

Halfway through the second half, another five substitutions followed – with youngster Salah being played out as a wingback and Lagae now coming central to the defence. The level did not improve, the dirty game of the Greeks remained. This time, Samoise was roughly taken back. In an up and down ending, a goal could have been scored on either side. However, Fofana aimed wide, Lemajic also headed over from close range.

OBJECTIVES: 34′ Garcia 1-0 (penalty)

AA PEOPLE: Roef (68 ‘Fortin); Okumu (58 ‘Lagae), Ngadeu (68’ De Ridder), Lagae (46 ‘Samoise); Castro-Montes (68 ‘Salah), Kums (68’ Hjulsager), Odjidja (46 ‘Van Hauter), Nurio; Wheel saws (46 ‘Tissoudali), Bruno (46’ Fofana), Cuypers (68 ‘Lemajic)

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