Feyenoord targeting a win to finish the year
Feyenoord managed to squeeze past Willem II in the KNVB Cup at De Kuip on Thursday night, but Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side did need an extra 30 minutes to secure their quarter-final place. ‘That match took a lot of energy out of us,’ said Van Bronckhorst on Friday. ‘We now have two days to recover and switch our focus to N.E.C. We want to finish the year with a win.’
Although the coach felt his side made it difficult for themselves in the first half, Van Bronckhorst was happy with how Feyenoord turned things around after the break. ‘The match needed us to roll our sleeves up and show passion, and we did.’
Van Bronckhorst singled out Lex Immers for praise after the match. The midfielder came off the bench to make his first appearance since the away match at Roda JC on 20 September. A day later the coach reiterated his satisfaction: ‘We are in a phase where we have some suspensions and injuries, so players are brought on who haven’t played in a long time, like Lex Immers and Miquel Nelom. It was good for me to see that they were committed and battled with the team to win the tie.’
Feyenoord will need the same commitment at the weekend when they travel to Nijmegen, something Van Bronckhorst is only too aware of. ‘We will have to go all out again on Sunday. N.E.C. lost to an amateur club in the cup, so they will be keen to come back strong on Sunday. N.E.C. are a team with a compact style that can play good football. They started the season well, but the results have tailed off a bit in recent weeks. We have to target a win when playing N.E.C. away.’
If Feyenoord do take all the points at N.E.C.’s Goffert Stadium, Van Bronckhorst feels Feyenoord would be able to look back on a terrific first half of the season. ‘We are among the leaders in the league and we are still in the cup. That’s what we wanted and it takes a lot of time and energy. That goes for me, too, but it’s very satisfying to work with the boys like this.’
Sven van Beek and Rick Karsdorp were substituted with minor complaints on Thursday night. Van Bronckhorst expects both defenders to recover in time for the last Eredivisie fixture of the year. ‘Sven and Rick picked up some knocks, but I hope they won’t be a problem for Sunday.’ Players who are out of contention for a place in the match-day squad are Eric Botteghin (hamstrings) and Stef Gronsveld, who has been injured for a while. Simon Gustafson and Terence Kongolo are also unavailable due to suspension.