The caretaker coach refused to entertain the idea that Heracles were ideal opposition a week after the defeat to FC Volendam. ‘I don’t really care who’s coming to De Kuip,’ said Vlemmings. ‘I’m much more interested in how we will keep to the plans we agreed this week. But I do realise it’s a different game to when AZ or Ajax are visiting’
While Volendam went all out attack at home, Heracles are expected to take a more defensive approach at De Kuip. The main aim for the Almelo side will be to come out of the game with at least a point. ‘We will have to be patient and accurate when we have the ball,’ continued Vlemmings. ‘We have to try to create chances from the flanks.’
Last Sunday’s defeat was a big setback in the race for a place in the playoffs, but Vlemmings feels that the fat lady has not even cleared her through, never mind launched into a ditty. ‘I’ve always said that’s our goal. And I couldn’t care less how we do it. As long as we have made it after 34 games.’ At the moment Feyenoord’s way is barred by NEC and FC Utrecht, with just five games to play. ‘So we cannot afford too many slipups,’ says Vlemmings. ‘But I have belief, although we still have everything to do.’
André Bahia’s suspension opens the door for Serginho Greene, who returns to the starting line-up for the first time in over five months. ‘We haven’t needed to change so Serginho just had to wait for his chance,’ said Vlemmings. ‘Now André is unavailable he’s back in the picture as central defender. I didn’t want to chop and change in the team.’
Heracles Almelo started the season in fine fettle, beating Feyenoord and drawing with sc Heerenveen and FC Groningen, but with five games of the regular season left they find themselves in a relegation scrap. Despite being in 13th place, Heracles have just four points advantage over bottom team De Graafschap.
Heracles probably feel that they should have been safe by now. March brought six pointers against De Graafschap, Sparta Rotterdam and FC Volendam, but the Almelo outfit were only able to scramble together two points out of nine.
Chairman Jan Smit was so concerned that he fired off a broadside in the dressing room after the 0-1 defeat at Sparta. Smit felt that the performance was unacceptable. A day after the game he reiterated his thoughts in a national newspaper, adding: ‘I’m very shocked by the performance against Sparta. It was a terrible watch.’
It’s unclear whether Smit’s emotional outburst helped raise his players’ game, but fact is that Heracles earned a hard-fought point against high-flying sc Heerenveen in the next game. Mark-Jan Fledderus converted a free kick in the final stages to secure a share of the spoils. There was a price to pay, however. After two red cards against Sparta (Birger Maertens and Mark Looms) this time Kwame Quansah was given his marching orders.
Ricky van den Bergh has been on the wrong end of a red card this season, too, but more often that not the midfielder has been making headlines for happier reasons – like good performances, assists and goals. The technically gifted van den Bergh could have had even more than the six he already has. The goal frame has robbed him on more occasions than any other player on the league. His rich vein of form has earned Van den Bergh a dream move to his hometown club ADO in The Hague.
Feyenoord – Heracles Almelo
Sunday 12 April, 14:30 at De Kuip
Referee: Van Sichem
Feyenoord: Timmer; Leerdam, Greene, Lucius, Van Bronckhorst; Landzaat, Bruins, Fer; Wijnaldum, Makaay and Biseswar.
Heracles Almelo: Pieckenhagen; Boakye, Maertens, Wuytens, Looms; De Vries, Van den Bergh, Shayesteh; Douglas, Everton and Overtoom.
02/12/2007 Feyenoord – Heracles Almelo 6-0
27/08/2006 Feyenoord – Heracles Almelo 0-0
27/11/2005 Feyenoord – Heracles Almelo 7-1
21/08/1985 Feyenoord – Heracles 5-1
13/03/1966 Feyenoord – Heracles 5-2
31/08/2009 Heracles Almelo – Feyenoord 3-1
23/02/2008 Heracles Almelo - Feyenoord 3-3
15/04/2007 Heracles Almelo - Feyenoord 4-1
29/01/2006 Heracles Almelo - Feyenoord 0-4
BIG MATCH FACTS
Feyenoord have hosted Heracles Almelo eight times in the Eredivisie. Feyenoord won six meetings and there were two draws.
Theo Lucius could make his 250th Eredivisie appearance. He made his debut for PSV against Cambuur Leeuwarden on 22 August 1998.
Feyenoord beat Heracles 6-0 last season (12 December 2007). Roy Makaay scored twice and Georginio Wijnaldum became Feyenoord’s youngest ever goal scorer, netting at the tender age of 17 years and 21 days.