VAN MARWIJK: ‘CUP FINAL IS UNBELIEVABLY IMPORTANT’

Sunday’s KNVB Cup final at De Kuip is an ‘unbelievably important occasion for the club, says Bert van Marwijk. It would not only enable the coach to leave Feyenoord with a prize, but also guarantee the Rotterdammers Uefa Cup football next season without the need to navigate the playoffs. And of course silverware would be a great way to celebrate the club’s centenary.

At the Thursday press conference ahead of the game, Van Marwijk was asked whether the situation heaps extra pressure on Feyenoord. ‘I think so,’ responded the coach. ‘In the run-up to a game like this the pressure is turned up in newspapers and on TV anyway. Players have to be able to handle that. We’ve talked about it a lot in the dressing room.’

Roda JC coach Raymond Atteveld has made Feyenoord favourites to lift the cup, but Van Marwijk is having none of it. ‘It’s about the form on the day, the motivation and the attitude of the players. Instinctively it’s an advantage for us to play at home. What’s more, the media often decide who’s the big favourite in the days prior to the final.’

Sunday’s match has that extra bit of spice because Feyenoord and Roda JC encountered each other in the final game of the Eredivisie season proper last week. ‘For that reason it will be a strange game, because we just played each other,’ said Van Marwijk. ‘But we realise that we will meet a different Roda JC this Sunday. Their squad is back to full strength again and the attitude of the players will be different. No prisoners will be taken.’

For Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who joined Van Marwijk at the press conference, winning the cup is especially important to finish the season well. ‘It will be the only way to save the season,’ explained the skipper. ‘The supporters hope and expect that we will win. They have had to wait for a trophy since 2002, so that shows how valuable this cup would be.’

Van Bronckhorst also has a personal reason for wanting to win the KNVB Cup. ‘I’ve won trophies at every club I’ve played at, but not at Feyenoord. It would be my first real trophy at Feyenoord.’

Feyenoord will be buoyed by the fact that Roy Makaay is ready to play for the first time since picking up an ankle injury six weeks ago. The striker is lacking match fitness of course, but Van Marwijk does not feel that counts against Makaay. ‘Roy is not the sort of player who needs to be match fit to play.’

THE OPPOSITION
Raymond Atteveld promised to put out a ‘different’ Roda JC to compete for the cup than the one beaten 3-0 at De Kuip last weekend. ‘From my point of view we had the handbrake on to a certain extent,’ said the coach, who was suspended last week, which meant he was not permitted to watch the game from the touchline. He’ll be back in the dugout Sunday however.

While Feyenoord have the perceived advantage of playing the final at their home ground, Atteveld does not expect the Rotterdammers to have the run of De Kuip. Roda RC are bringing 13,000 fans with them, ensuring that the game will in no way simply be a home tie for Feyenoord. ‘A large part of the stadium will be coloured yellow and black and the Feyenoord fans will be regularly outchanted. That is different from the situation at league games at De Kuip.’

The coach covered over 400 kilometres in the company of defender Ger Senden to be at the press conference, where he admitted to being delighted to be in with a chance of taking a trophy. ‘It’s a great time to be in the final. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we’ll be able to put Kerkrade back on the footballing map.’

‘Feyenoord are favourites and we’re happy with that. Obviously Feyenoord are the club with the bigger budget, the greater history and status. But in this type of game that doesn’t count. The table is not important on Sunday; this is a game with something extra. If we play well we can beat them.’

KNVB CUP FINAL
FEYENOORD –RODA JC

Sunday 27 April, 18:00 at De Kuip
Referee: J van Hulten

PROBABLE LINE-UP
Feyenoord:

Timmer; Lucius, Hofland, Bahia, De Cler; Landzaat, Van Bronckhorst, Sahin; De Guzman, Makaay, Bruins.
Roda JC: Castro; Sonkaya, De Fauw, Kah, De Jong; Bodor, Meeuwis, Janssen; Hadouir, Van Tornhout, Lamah.
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