"Now it's time to party," said Ariël Jacobs after RSC Anderlecht claimed their 31st Belgian title, in a season when KSC Lokeren OV captured their first major silverware.
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Denied by KRC Genk in the play-offs last term, RSC Anderlecht reclaimed the Belgian title – their 31st – with room to spare. Yet it was as much a season for the less fancied names, as third-tier K. Rupel Boom FC grabbed the headlines, KSC Lokeren OV captured their first major title and RAEC Mons' Jérémy Perbet proved unstoppable.
Champions: RSC Anderlecht
Having lost Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea FC, Anderlecht brought in former R. Standard de Liège team-mates Dieudonné Mbokani and Milan Jovanović as replacements. Ariël Jacobs's side surprisingly lost their opening league game 2-1 at OH Leuven, but were soon on the victory trail and finished six points clear at the top at the end of the regular season. They clinched the title with two play-off games remaining when Guillaume Gillet's late penalty secured a 1-1 draw at Club Brugge KV. "This is the result of what we started working on in July," said Jacobs. "Now it's time to party."
Cup final: KV Kortrijk 0-1 KSC Lokeren OV
Lokeren claimed their first Belgian Cup, having lost to Standard in their only previous final in 1981, despite having Benjamin De Ceulaer sent off midway through the first half in Brussels. Yet they hung on against maiden finalists Kortrijk and Hamdi Harbaoui struck 13 minutes from time to secure their first major trophy. "We've proved before that we can play with good organisation despite going a man down," said coach Peter Maes. "It was no different today."
RSC Anderlecht – UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round
Club Brugge KV – UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round
KSC Lokeren OV – UEFA Europa League, play-offs
KRC Genk – UEFA Europa League, third qualifying round
KAA Gent – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA
Player of the Year: Matías Suárez (RSC Anderlecht)
Suárez, 24, was elected 2011 player of the year by a collection of journalists and dignitaries, and was later named as player of the season by a his top-flight peers. His 12 league goals helped the Brussels outfit take the title, and his seven in six UEFA Europa League games helped Anderlecht cruise through the group stage with a perfect record. "I am very satisfied," said the Argentinian. "It was a good season, with the championship for Anderlecht and this important trophy for me."
One to watch: Kevin De Bruyne (KRC Genk)
Only 20, the playmaker has been causing a stir at Genk for two seasons, launching attacks and producing the odd stunning strike himself. Capped twice, he secured a mid-season move to Chelsea, remaining at Genk on loan for the remainder of the campaign. "To come to a team like Chelsea is a dream come true," said De Bruyne. "But now it's a reality and I have to work hard to achieve the level that's necessary."
Surprise package: KV Kortrijk
A sixth-place finish and a first Belgian Cup final appearance represented enormous success for Kortrijk, who eight years ago were playing in the third division. Playing a fresh, attack-minded game, De Kerels won the respect of their peers, with boss Hein Vanhaezebrouck was named Belgian coach of the season.
Leading scorer: Jérémy Perbet, RAEC Mons (25)
Relegated: K. Sint-Truidense VV, KVC Westerlo
Promoted: R. Charleroi SC, KVRS Waasland - SK Beveren
On 26 October, K. Rupel Boom FC became the first third division side in 57 years to eliminate Anderlecht from the Belgian Cup, beating the Brussels outfit 2-1 at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in the round of 16.
"I never ran so fast in my life. I did not even have time to explain to the coach what was wrong. Luckily I just made it in time."
Mushaga Bakenga had a dream debut for Club Brugge, scoring in a 5-1 win against K. Beerschot AC on 5 February 2012, but the 19-year-old was forced to make a dash for the toilets during the game due to severe stomach cramps.