Last year, Antwerp FC moved young Zeno Van den Bosch up the central defender hierarchy and to this day he has not disappointed as Toby Alderweireld’s back-up.
Mark van Bommel and Marc Overmars strongly believe in the qualities of the 20-year-old defender, who has been considered Antwerp’s great and upcoming talent for some time, even more than Arthur Vermeeren.
The great and upcoming talent of Antwerp, even more than Vermeeren
Frank Vercauteren has also contributed to the (re)construction of the youth work of Antwerp FC. As head coach in 2021, he introduced his famous aspirant work, with which he actually laid the foundation for the club’s current youth work.
Under the impetus of Vercauteren, the young talent Zeno Van den Bosch was brought to the first team, who had been considered Antwerp’s great and upcoming talent for some time, even more so than Arthur Vermeeren.
However, Van den Bosch had to wait patiently for his chance in the first team, because it was only last season that he finally made his debut with the big boys. This of course also has to do with the position he occupies, where there is great competition and there is usually hardly any substitution.
The Antwerp club management has great confidence in Van den Bosch, and this became clear during the winter mercato last year, when the club decided not to appoint a replacement for the departed central defender Dinis Almeida (Ludogorets).
This decision was a well-considered and conscious choice by the club: Antwerp moved the young Van den Bosch up the hierarchy and he did not disappoint.
“Marc Overmars and Van Bommel said: let Dinis Almeida go, we are counting on Van den Bosch as a stand-in for Toby Alderweireld,” Gill Swerts, former promising coach at Antwerp, revealed in The newspapaer.
Janssen: “He is incredibly good”
This season, Zeno Van den Bosch serves as a backup for captain Toby Alderweireld and is gradually getting more playing minutes under the guidance of Mark van Bommel.
He always played an important role as a substitute in the European first and second leg against AEK Athens, with the aim of securing a place in the group stage of the Champions League. “Barely 19 years old, but he knows what to do. He put in an excellent performance,” Van Bommel said at the time.
A few days later, Van den Bosch was brought on after 23 minutes in the match against Union SG as a replacement for the injured Sam Vines, and again he showed that he could fill that role with verve.
He entered into tough duels with Dennis Eckert Ayensa, he read the game well, was sharp in the duels and also won many. “He has made fantastic progress since he joined the first team. My compliments to Zeno – and to the entire team.”
Vincent Janssen even named him Man of the Match and praised his excellent performance. “He was incredibly good,” said the Dutch player.
Jelle Bataille added: “Zeno dealt with that setback – coming on strongly in Athens, but now starting on the bench again – well. That shows mental strength. It is not up to me to say that he should start, but I think Zeno deserves it.”
Van den Bosch is a nice backup for Alderweireld
Zeno Van den Bosch has made an impressive development since the previous season. He now exudes more calmness on the ball and confirms his profile as a defender with excellent footballing ability, strong in possession and a lot of initiative.
Antwerp therefore consciously chose not to loan him to another club during the mid-season and did not bring in a new backup for Toby Alderweireld after the departure of Dinis Almeida.
This is partly due to the confidence that Mark van Bommel has in him and is confirmed by the fact that he is currently getting a lot of playing minutes. “When Toby was missing, Zeno Van den Bosch showed beautiful things,” confirmed Patrick Goots in Gazette of Antwerp.
Van den Bosch has already collected more playing minutes than during the entire previous season.
His performances have even attracted the attention of the Young Devils, where national coach Gill Swerts, former coach of the Antwerp reserves, can make good use of his qualities as a footballing defender who can break the game.
Successful Champions League baptism of fire against FC Porto
Zeno Van den Bosch also confirmed his role as a reliable replacement for Toby Alderweireld during the Champions League match against FC Porto. In his first starting appearance in the Champions League, the 20-year-old defender replaced the injured captain.
Mark van Bommel called it an “exam for the young boys”, emphasizing that their performance is of great importance. Van den Bosch held his own against Mehdi Taremi, defended meticulously in the one-on-one duels and held up well against the experienced Portuguese.
He showed himself to be strong in the air and was solid in the duels, although he was still beaten by Pepe after regular playing time.
According to Marc Degryse, Van den Bosch may not yet have the same presence as Alderweireld and he also does not have a good long ball, but he certainly did not fall through the ice against Taremi and Evanilson.
“He must have learned that in Europe you get less time to build up. That his speed of action must increase, and that you must see the solution more quickly,” Degryse stated The last news.