OH Leuven got off to a flying start against KRC Genk in their 25th match of the season. After just 50 seconds in the game Sory Kaba was left completely unmarked in the box and scored after Mathieu Maertens easily got past Jhon Lucumí on the right. KRC Genk took control of the game quickly but got into more trouble when their captain Bryan Heynen got a red card after losing possession and fouling Sory Kaba. The away side kept playing quite offensive after receiving the red card and equalized quickly through Mujaid Sadick. After the 1-1 KRC Genk started to play a little more careful, resulting in quite a slow game. Later in the second half OH Leuven started to take a bit more risk and got what they wanted. In the 93rd minute Sory Kaba converted a penalty and gave his team the three points.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, re-watch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Belgian
- Age: 19
- Date of birth: 10/05/2002
- Current club: OH Leuven
- Career: OH Leuven
- Position: Defensive Midfield
- Preferred foot: Right
Mandela Keita is OH Leuven’s big revelation this season. The 19-year-old defensive midfielder made his debut for Leuven last season and is a regular starter for them this year. In November Keita got his first call-up for the Belgian U21’s where he played twenty minutes against Turkey.
In the match against KRC Genk, Keita played as the left-sided defensive midfielder next to Siebe Schrijvers in Leuven’s 3-4-2-1. Where Schrijvers often had the freedom to roam forward, Keita played a lot more defensive and almost barely moved forward when OH Leuven was in attack. The Belgian isn’t the tallest standing at 5’11”. He has a good athletic build, but would still benefit a lot from building some more muscle mass. Defensively he positioned himself quite centrally just in front of his defence cutting off passing lines in the middle. Defensively Mandela Keita didn’t have to do that much but he did quite well in the few defensive duels that he had. However, there were some moments he could’ve pressed with a bit more urgence. He was often just jogging around the pitch quite slowly, which also in possession, looked a bit questionable at times.
With the ball at his feet, Keita looked very promising. He looked very calm on the ball and did very well when pressed. He scanned well before receiving the ball and was easily able to turn with the ball while being under pressure. Keita used good body feints to create space for himself and almost always kept possession for his team, although that is also because he didn’t take a lot of risks. Mainly his passing is where Keita played it really safe. Often when he got the ball from the right-sided centre back, he would turn and play pass it to the centre back on the left. He only made a handful of forward passes, even though he showed that he has a great long pass.
Rating – A2
Mandela Keita should be on the shortlist of all the best teams in Belgium. He is a very interesting player, but has enough areas to improve. This game I mainly thought he could have been working a lot harder and playing the ball forward a lot more since there was definitely space to do so.
- Nationality: Turkish
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 06/10/2000
- Current club: OH Leuven (On loan from Olympique Lyonnais)
- Career: Atltay SK, Karacabey Belediye Spor (Loan), Olympique Lyonnais, OH Leuven (Loan)
- Position: Centre Back
- Secondary position: Left Back
- Preferred foot: Left
Looking only at his stats Cenk Özkacar had a solid game against KRC Genk. But in reality, the 21-year-old defender looked very vulnerable at times and showed quite some weaknesses. Özkacar played as the left-sided centre back in OH Leuven’s three-man defence and moved forward quite a bit at times. A lot of Genk’s danger came from the right side, so there was a lot of work for him to do. Together with striker Kaba the defender was responsible for Genk’s goal. Özkacar and Kaba looked completely lost after a free-kick and let Onuachu and Sadick move into the box without marking them at all. Sadick was completely open and tapped in the ball from close.
For the rest of the game, Özkacar looked very strong in his defensive duels. The 6’2” tall defender cleared a lot of long balls with his head and showed good timing in the air. The Turkish centre back used his body well and won most of his physical duels. He liked to step out of the defensive line to press higher up the pitch and was quite successful when doing so. However, against faster and more agile players he struggled a lot. Özkacar looked quite slow, especially on the first few meters and took a long time to change direction. His opponents could easily turn away from him with a simple feint and would get a lot of space from him to shoot or cross, which got dangerous on numerous of occasions. Especially in duels against Theo Bongonda Özkacar didn’t stand a chance a couple of times.
On the ball, his slowness also set him back quite a bit. He made a few mistakes whilst being pressed, but got away with them this game. He was quite clumsy with the ball in smaller spaces and showed slow feet. If he had the time his distribution was good. He liked to play longer passes, which he did very well.
Rating – C
Cenk Özkacar looked very vulnerable against KRC Genk and didn’t look very comfortable on the ball.