DAVID SMITH - Monday, August 23, 2010
Following a strong weekend outing, Sacha Kljestan will hope to remain in coach Ariël Jacobs' plans as Anderlecht try to nail down a place in the Champions League group stage against Partizan Belgrade on Tuesday.
Kljestan had not featured in either of the team's two prior games - including their 2-2 first-leg draw in Belgrade last week - but was called upon by Jacobs from the start in their Saturday-evening encounter with Lokeren.
A first-half goal and overall solid performance by the former Chivas USA player in the 3-0 win certainly won't hurt his chances to feature either as a starter or substitute in Tuesday's home leg.
Andelecht and Partizan put on an impressive second-half show in last Wednesday's first-leg, combining for four goals in a span of 12 minutes to finish all even with two apiece.
The score does give the Belgian champions a slight edge on away goals, meaning that a low-scoring draw or any victory will be enough for them to break through into the lucrative group stage of the competition.
Knowing that an outright victory by his squad is almost certainly their only way through this final play-off, Partizan coach Aleksandar Stanojević will select his squad knowing they have no choice but to push for goals.
Even though they were given an extra weekend of rest due to the postponement of their league match against FK Hajduk Kula, the squad will still be hampered with the loss of playmaker Almami Moreira who is still out with a knee problem.
Additionally, midfielder Branislav Jovanović and defender Joseph Kizito will both miss the trip to Belgium due to injuries.
Anderlecht are still forced to make do without long-term absence victim Tom De Sutter as he recovers from an ankle injury and keeper Davy Schollen who has a knee problem.
Head coach Jacobs does have a couple pieces of good news, as midfielders Jonathan Legear and Lucas Biglia could make their returns after recovering from their respective hamstring and shoulder injuries.