Feyenoord looking to hold on to feel-good factor against AZ

Last week’s first win of the year in Tilburg brought the feel-good factor back to Feyenoord and that was only reinforced in midweek as a large number of players represented their nations. Four of them were in the Dutch national team that took on Italy in Amsterdam. ‘It’s great for them to play games at that level,’ admitted Jean Paul van Gastel speaking at De Kuip on Friday afternoon. The assistant coach was standing in for Ronald Koeman at the regular press conference, as the head coach had to leave after the morning training session to attend to a personal matter.

There were also Feyenoord players in the Under 21s and the Under 19s, whose game Van Gastel himself watched. ‘Actually we could also include Jonathan de Guzman and Leroy Fer, because they came through the Feyenoord academy.’ For Van Gastel the large contingent of Feyenoord players in national squads is very positive for the club, but it does mean they will have high expectations on their shoulders. ‘They will be judged as internationals in the Dutch league too.’

High praise was heaped on Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi, who formed a central defensive partnership against the Italians. ‘They coped well against a dangerous striker like Mario Balotelli and they almost kept a clean sheet as well.’ Van Gastel feels the duo’s strong performance does not mean they should play alongside each other in central defence for Feyenoord. ‘We are extremely satisfied with our defence and we are very confident about the path we have taken.’

Lex Immers returns from suspension on Sunday and will start against AZ, Van Gastel said. ‘Tonny Vilhena did well in his place against Willem II, but he will revert to his own position in midfield on Sunday. We have every confidence in Lex. There’s a good reason why he’s already got ten goals.’

Save Terence Kongolo, who is still recovering from a knee injury, Koeman has a full squad to choose from for Sunday’s visit of AZ to De Kuip. ‘That important win has put us back in the top four,’ said Van Gastel. ‘That inspires confidence for the game against AZ.’

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