Koeman: ‘Most important that we play a compact game’
Three straight Eredivisie defeats have not affected Ronald Koeman’s confidence ahead of the two-leg Europa League playoff against Kuban Krasnodar. The Feyenoord coach was happy to confirm that today at a busy press conference at the Kuban Stadium before his squad’s final training session. ‘I base that trust on a feeling I have going on the training sessions and games,’ Koeman explained. ‘Last Sunday against Ajax I saw a lot of spirit in the team, although it’s clear that we can and have to play better. In that sense, tomorrow’s game is a good test to see whether we can push on. The result will hopefully confirm that.’
The press conference started with a question and answer session with the Russian journalists. Their questions did raise a few eyebrows around the table. One Russian reporter wanted to know whether Feyenoord had a player who could score from 44 metres. It was a question that brought a smile to Koeman’s face. He answered that he could do that himself in his heyday.
When attentions focused on Thursday’s game, Koeman confirmed that he expected a tough match against Kuban Krasnodar. ‘It’s a team that are tough to play against, that like to let their opponents have the ball. It’s difficult to say whether we are favourites. Kuban have more financial clout than we do and they have more physical power in their team. On the other hand, we have more talent in our team.’
The coach was unwilling to say whether he would bulk up the midfield in Krasnodar as he did in the most recent away game at Ajax. ‘The most important thing is that we play a compact game,’ he said. ‘We took a step in the right direction last Sunday compared to our first two league games. We have to get a good result by playing compactly and lay a good foundation for next week’s home leg. Getting through the next round is very important to everyone.’