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Michel's mate, ex-Spurs defender and other facts on KAA Gent...

Posted on 15 February 2017  - 12:25

A handful of our players will bump into some old friends when we take on KAA Gent in Belgium in the UEFA Europa League, round of 32 on Thursday night (February 16).

Nana Asare in action for Gent this seasonEx-Spur William Troost-Ekong in training with Gent today (Wednesday, February 15)Gent's home stadium

Versatile Ghanaian international Nana Asare, who has captained Gent of late, was a team-mate of Michel Vorm at Dutch side FC Utrecht between 2005 and 2011 and our goalkeeper admits the midfielder, who can also play at left wing-back, is someone to watch out for.

“We played together for a few years and he was a very important player for us at Utrecht at that time,” said Michel. “We had one of the best periods there, we played European football and it was an amazing time.

“To be honest, he was always quite quiet but on the pitch he’s a beast and he’s someone who will always give 110 per cent. He didn’t say much but was the type of player that you could really rely on. He’s left-footed and he was one of our key players so it’ll be good to see him after all these years!”

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Above: Michel Vorm during his FC Utrecht days.

Likewise, Gent's Rami Gershon and Rabiu Ibrahim were at Celtic along with Victor Wanyama in 2012-13, while the club also has an ex-Spurs player in their ranks in the form of William Troost-Ekong, who played for our academy side, including the occasional game in the same team as Harry Kane, before leaving for Dutch side FC Groningen in 2013.

Now 23, the defender first joined Gent in the summer of 2015 but was immediately loaned out to Haugesund in the Norwegian top flight, finally returning to Belgium last November and coming into their squad in January, where he played twice and made several appearances on the bench. William, who won bronze with Nigeria at last summer’s Olympic Games in Rio, will not be eligible to feature against us, as he is not named on Gent’s Europa League squad list.

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Above: William Troost-Ekong in Spurs action in 2012.

Here are some other facts and stats about our latest continental opponents…

Formed – 1864 (1900 as a football association).

Nickname – The Buffalos.

Colours – Light blue.

Manager – Hein Vanhaezebrouck. He turns 53 on Thursday and guided Gent to their first Belgian title in 2014-15, before steering them to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 last season. He established his reputation during two periods at home-town club Kortrijk, for whom he had also played.

Honours – Gent’s biggest domestic triumph came in the 2014-15 season when they won their first ever Belgian top flight title. They’ve won the Belgian Cup three times, most recently in 2009-10, and lifted the Belgian Supercup in 2015.

Stadium – The Ghelamco Arena was opened in 2013 and has a capacity of 20,000. It’s the first newly-built Belgian football stadium since 1974.

Current form – Gent lost 1-0 at home to strugglers Eupen on Saturday and currently sit in eighth place (out of 16) in the Belgian Pro League. They have won two, drawn two and lost one of their last five league games.

Top scorer – Jeremy Perbet. The French striker played in Spain for Villarreal in 2013-14 and spent last term on loan at Charleroi from İstanbul Başakşehir. He has scored six goals in all competitions this season to date.

How they got to this stage – Gent entered this season’s Europa League in the third qualifying round, beating Romanian side Viitorul 5-0 on aggregate, then beat Macedonian outfit KF Shkëndija 6-1 on aggregate in the play-off round. They subsequently finished second in Group H behind Shakhtar Donetsk, having won two, drawn two and lost two of their six games. Braga and Turkish side Konyaspor also competed in their group.