What Newcastle Face In Belgium

Last updated : 14 February 2007 By Footy Mad - Editor

They only formed in 2001! A merger of two other (not so famous) clubs - Zultse and Waregem - in 2001. But all credit to them, they have gone from the national Third Division to the top flight in five seasons and on into Europe in six.

Probably the closest we could come up with is Reading or Wigan Athletic. And who would have thought in 2001 they would be playing the elite of the Premiership in 2007?

Their form isn't that clever though, Zulte-Waregem won their first match since Christmas at the weekend with a 3-1 victory over Standard Liege - Gooch's current club.
Their European record doesn't give much of a clue, either. This is their first exploit out of Belgium. 
But, unlike Newcastle in recent years, they know what it's like to win a trophy. They won the Belgian Cup by beating Mouscron last season.

So far in European competition where they have won three and lost three, facng Lokomotiv Moscow, Austria Vienna, Sparta Prague, Espanyol and Ajax Amsterdam.
Top scorer is Tim Matthys who has scored five Uefa Cup goals, including a hat-trick against Austria Vienna.
Coach Francky Dury has just stepped down from his role as a detective with the Gent police to focus solely on football and Zulte-Waregem, instead of combining the jobs.

The 49-year-old, who has masterminded their rise up the Belgian league ladder, now has a contract which runs until 2012 at the Regenboogstadion, which when translated goes by the superb name of the Rainbow Stadium.

Francky Dury: "I asked the chairman if it would have been better to draw a smaller team in the Uefa Cup, but there wasn't another Zulte-Waregem! It's a new challenge and I promise we won't let Belgian football down. We won't go down without a fight."

The winners will play Fenerbahce or AZ Alkmaar.