Feyenoord bent on getting back on track at AZ
‘A lot has happened this week.’ Those were the words with which Giovanni van Bronckhorst opened his weekly press conference after last weekend’s loss to PSV, keeper Warner Hahn’s cruciate ligament injury and the departure of Lex Immers. ‘You have to manage that and we have.’
Among other things, the coach did so by watching the footage from the PSV match with his players. ‘We saw that we were not set up right in the first few minutes of the second half. PSV took advantage and we are disappointed about that. As the week has gone by the team have recovered and we have focused on the match against AZ. We trained well and the players are fresh in their minds again,’ said the coach.
Van Bronckhorst describes the fixture in Alkmaar, which kicks off at 12.30 CET on Sunday, as a new opportunity. After three matches without a win, the gap to leaders Ajax has increased to eight points, with second place PSV three points ahead of Feyenoord. ‘That’s why it’s important we win on Sunday,’ explained the coach. ‘We have to get back on track fast and get some points. That gives a team confidence, as we saw at the start of the season.’
On the eve of the match day 19 AZ are tenth in the Eredivision table. ‘When you look at their qualities, they are too low in my opinion,’ says Van Bronckhorst. ‘There has been too much chopping and changing in the team, partly due to injuries, and so they have performed inconsistently. But during the winter break they did bring in two experienced lads during the winter break in Ron Vlaar and Mounir El Hamdaoui. They also have the experience of playing in the group stage of the Europa League, which they can put to good use in the Eredivisie.’
During the press conference Van Bronckhorst announced that Justin Bijlow would be the reserve keeper on the bench in Alkmaar. The Feyenoord Under 19 goalie replaces Hahn. The coach also has Karim El Ahmadi back; the midfielder returns from suspension. Eric Botteghin (hamstring) and Jari Schuurman (knee) will both definitely miss the match.