On Saturday, June 10, 2023, day 1 of the 6the edition of the Kevin De Bruyne Cup, some 5,500 football fans descended on Drongen to see the future football stars live at work. For the first time, two teams from outside Europe also flew to Drongen: Mamelodi Sundowns from South Africa and Palmeiras SE from Brazil. Tomorrow, the semi-finals (among others) are on the programme. Palmeiras takes on Paris Saint-Germain; Club Brugge meets FC Barcelona, the winner of the previous edition. Remarkable: at noon, the Red Flamingos, our national Amputation football team, played against their Dutch counterparts. In this way too, the KDB Cup sets a good example: football really is for everyone.
It already seemed to be high summer on day 1 of the KDB Cup 2023. At the kick-off of the first matches at 9.30 am, the thermometer was already at 23 degrees. The guests from the far South had to go full steam ahead right away. Palmeiras immediately gave its calling card: it won both its pool matches, against Bayern Munich and Odense BK. Mamelodi Sundowns first paid the price against FC Barcelona (winner of the 2022 edition, 0-4), but then surprised Manchester City (2-0).
The Belgian clubs surprisingly finished in first place in their pool. The Buffaloes overcame Real Madrid, narrowly losing to Ajax, but still finished top thanks to goal difference. Club Brugge followed a similar path. It first won convincingly against RB Leipzig, lost narrowly against Paris Saint-Germain despite a heroic remonstrance (from 4-0 to 4-3), but also had the best goal difference.
Palmeiras SE, FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Club Brugge go for gold
In the quarter-finals, Palmeiras crushed the other newcomers from Mamelodi: it was 7-1. FC Barcelona narrowly clinched a place in the last four against Odense (2-1). Paris Saint-Germain pulled away from local heroes Gantoise (3-1). Club Brugge will defend Belgium's honour tomorrow: it is the fourth semi-finalist after a 2-1 win against Ajax.
That makes for two somewhat surprising but great draws for a final spot. Palmeiras SE will take on Paris Saint-Germain, while Club Brugge may take to the pitch against FC Barcelona. Thousands of football fans are already licking their thumbs and fingers....
Red Flamingos command respect
A great moment was reserved for the Red Flamingos, our national amputee football team. In the afternoon, they played a real 'Derby of the Low Countries' against the Netherlands. The performance of both teams commanded a lot of admiration from the many spectators. The Netherlands proved a size too big and won 0-7, but that defeat was calculated: the Dutch have been playing together for about ten years.
Wendy De Cock, board member of the non-profit association Ampu Foot Belgium, is nevertheless pleased: "It is great that we get the chance to play in front of so many people. Few football fans know the Red Flamingos, which will be different after the game. Anyway, 2023 should be the breakthrough year for ampufoot. Since April, we have had Pro League clubs in Antwerp and Bruges. As soon as a third club is added we may start a league ... AND we may enter Europe." The Red Flamingos will also play the first-ever Nations League in the autumn.
(at 'News' on this site you will find a more detailed piece on the ampufoot contest)
Tournament director Jeroen Verhille: "Strength of continuity pays off"
After the end of Day 1, halfway through the 2023 edition of the KDB Cup, tournament director Jeroen Verhille already made a first analysis as usual. "I am very satisfied, first of all with the football that was brought, also by the G-teams and the national teams ampufoot. Jacky Mathijssen, our national coach of the Umpires, Frank Boeckx and Geert De Vlieger told me that they came away impressed by the high level among the teams and our organisation. Even Minister Vincent Van Peteghem, our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, showed genuine admiration. The turnout was also fat OK. Despite the fact that Kevin could not be there and that we were forced to be in the middle of the exam period, we had as many people as last year. Proof to me that the power of continuity pays off. Only thanks to the efforts of more than four hundred volunteers is such an event possible. As icing on the cake, about a thousand people also watched Man City win the Champions League in the evening. Blessed."