Koeman: ‘We are very keen on advancing’

Last Sunday’s goalless draw at home to FC Twente will have boosted confidence at De Kuip as the business end of the season approaches, but it also showed where improvements can be made. Coach Ronald Koeman saw his side put in a good sixty-minute shift but also observed that they were ultimately unable to make the breakthrough. ‘We played well for an hour; that has to be ninety minutes against PSV,’ said Koeman in the run-up to the KNVB cup quarterfinal against the table-toppers.

The coach feels it’s partly a physical issue. ‘It was clear against FC Twente that we were not the strongest side physically, but we showed we are a good match for opponents like that,’ he explained on Tuesday. ‘It’s sometimes forgotten that we played that game with two 18-year-old wingers. Those players have to develop so that they can be strong for ninety minutes. Jordy Clasie for one has done that in recent seasons.’

At the same time, Koeman understands that playing against strong opponents is precisely what benefits his young players’ development. ‘What’s more, we are very keen on advancing in the cup,’ he said. ‘It’s quite a tough road to the final for us, but we are ready for it.’

The Feyenoord squad certainly trained fanatically at Varkenoord ahead of the crucial tie against PSV, with passions flaring between Bruno Martins Indi and Graziano Pellè at one point. ‘There was some irritation,’ said Koeman afterwards. ‘Pellè has already apologised for that.’ Then smiling: ‘It’s a sign that the lads are psyched up for this game.’

John Goossens and Wesley Verhoek will return to the match-day squad for the quarterfinal clash, after both were given some playing time in Monday’s Feyenoord/Excelsior development team match. Ruben Schaken is ruled out, however. The striker has targeted a return in Sunday’s league game at Willem II.

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