Club Brugge no easy hurdle

The three Belgian players of Ajax agree: Club Brugge is not an easy hurdle to take en route to the knock-out stages of the UEFA Champions League.

In 1973 KV Club Brugge was Belgium's best for the second time in their history. Ruud Geels transfered to the team from Brugge, where earier Rob Rensenbrink had played. The title in 1973 was celebrated joyously, but Club was on the brink of bankrupcy. Luckily mayor Michel van Maele was prepared to put money in the poor footballclub and he has remained loyal to Club Brugge. Nowadays he is the chairman.

In the seventies Ernst Happel was Club Brugge's coach for a long time. The Austrian stayed until December of 1978 and won the league title in 1976, 1977 and 1978, and the Belgian Cup in 1977.

Twice the side reacved a European Cup final. Both times - EC3 in 1976 and EC 1 in 1978 - Brugge lost to Liverpool.

After that a new era began at Club Brugge and it was up to coach Spitz Kohn to make a team of the foreign legion. It did not work and in the 1981-'82 season, in which Club went through three different head coaches, it maintained its place in the highest league only on the last match day.

After that things improved. In the late eighties the team, with Dutch coach Henk Houwaert, played great European matches and won the Belgian Cup in 1986 and the national championship in 1988. Brugge had the players for it. Jan Ceulemans, Marc Degryse, Jean-Pierre Papin and Frank Farina - cuurent national team coach of Australia - were on the payroll.

In the nineties Club Brugge won the league title four times and finished second three times.

In the beginning of the 21st century Brugge received a nice gift from the government: the Jan Breydel stadium. Norwegian coach Trond Sollied took the helm. Sollied favours the 4-3-3 system and always plays with wingers. It brought Club Brugge the title last year, eight points ahead of Anderlecht.

Ajax played four friendly matches against Club Brugge. The last time was in August of 1997. It was 1-4 in Brugge.

Icons of the club are goalkeeper Dany Verlinden, 40 years old and this season already active in 3 league matches and 1 European match; Gert Verheyen, with Club from 1992 and still of great worth; Oliver de Cock, who has played with the club since he was 12 years old. The most important player seems to be Peruvian Andrés Mendoza, who was bought after the team saw a video tape of him.

Results UEFA Cup 2001/2002
Qualfying round: IA 4-0, 6-1. 1st: Olympiakos Nicosia 2-2, 7-1, 2nd: CSCA KIEV 2-0, 5-0. 3rd: Olympique Lyon 4-1 0-3. eliminated

Results Champions League 2002/2003:
Groep H:
Barcelona - Club Brugge 3-2
Club Brugge - Lokomotiv Moskou 0-0
Galatasaray - Club Brugge 0-0
Club Brugge - Galatasaray 3-1
Club Brugge - Barcelona 0-1
Lokomotiv Moskou - Club Brugge 2-0

UEFA Cup 2002/2003

Stuttgart - Club Brugge 2-1
Club Brugge - Stuttgart 0-1

Preliminary round UEFA Champions League 2003/2004:
Club Brugge - Borussia Dortmund 2-1
Borussia Dortmund - Club Brugge 2-1
Brugge wins after penalties