KAA Gent and Union Saint-Gilloise fight for Conference League survival this week

KAA Gent and Union Sint-Gilloise are both fighting for survival in the UEFA Conference League play-off this week. The Ghent-based team will look to bounce back from last week's 1-0 defeat to Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday evening, while the Brussels side will travel to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night.

KAA Gent lost 1-0 to the Israelis in Budapest, where the match was played due to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Qualifying for the rond of 16 of the Conference League will be no easy task for the Flemish side. Maccabi Haifa is by far the strongest club in Israel and even reached the Champions League group stage last year.

No fans allowed

To make matters worse, Gent will not be able to count on their fans in the stadium tonight. The city of Ghent, in consultation with the security forces, has decided that the stands at the KAA Gent Arena will have to remain empty on Wednesday due to security risks associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The game will also be played at an unusual time. Thursday, the usual day for Conference League matches, was not possible due to an informal meeting of the European Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) taking place at the stadium this weekend. And to avoid coinciding with the 9pm Champions League matches, Gent's match already kicks off at 6pm.

German finalist

For Union Sint-Gillis, the second Belgian team in the Conference League, the road to the last 16 is not much easier. The Brussels club held Eintracht Frankfurt to a 2-2 draw last week and will travel to Germany to try and complete the job. Eintracht Frankfurt is one of the best teams in Germany, reaching the final of the German Cup and the round of 16 of the Champions League last season.

While Club Brugge are the third and final Belgian side still in the competition, they do not have to play this week. The West Flanders club finished top of the group stage in December, automatically guaranteeing them a place in the last 16.


Gent's Tarik Tissoudali swerves through Maccabi's defence during last week's Conference League match. © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS

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