‘WE HAVE TO GO FOR THE CUP’

The opposition come from the first division but Feyenoord have been preparing for Thursday’s KNVB Cup quarterfinal as though they were meeting a top European outfit. The club have sent a delegation to watch their opponents three times, including Bert van Marwijk on one occasion. Clearly, the Rotterdammers want to get everything right ahead of the game, an assertion backed up by the team Van Marwijk will send out. The coach would prefer not to run the risk of fatiguing key players ahead of the league run-in, but he sees no alternative. ‘We have to go for it totally.’

Feyenoord have two targets this season. The priority is a place in the top five and participation in the Champions League playoffs. But there is a second objective and that is winning the cup. A win in Thursday’s home tie against FC Zwolle will see them into the semifinals. ‘We’re still in the competition, so we can win the cup and we have to go for it,’ says Van Marwijk.

He’s banking on Tim de Cler, Theo Lucius and Jonathan de Guzman all being available against the first division side. ‘I would rather give them another week out, but this week is too important.’ The Lucius situation shows just how serious the coach is. The right back has been on the sidelines for three weeks, but he may return to the team after just one training session.

Andwelé Slory won’t be one of the eleven however. The outside right has been battling a hamstring injury for some time now and the decision has been taken together with the medical staff to give the youngster some downtime. ‘He’s up for it, but it has to heal properly now,’ says Van Marwijk.

Feyenoord are favourites but their lower flight opponents are on a roll at the moment. Last week’s 7-0 drubbing of fifth-placed MVV is proof enough that FC Zwolle are in a rich vein of form right now. They are a physically strong team that are well organised. I saw them play in person and they impressed me. We have to ensure we don’t lose concentration. We qualify for Europe directly by winning the cup, so that has to be all the motivation we need to go all out.’

THE OPPOSITION

FC Zwolle’s place in the last eight of the KNVB Cup may have something to do with the favourable draw and the odd stroke of luck, but it also says something about how the first division side are playing this season.

Certainly the club’s run to the quarterfinals has been quite a low-key affair. Amateur side ONS Sneek did provide a sturdy test early on and were only seen off on penalties, while the third round tie against Go Ahead Eagles was a tight one decided by a single goal. A fourth round win against a mediocre NEC booked FC Zwolle’s place at De Kuip.

The lack of big name oponents has certainly helped FC Zwolle, but the club is also having a fine season in the league, nestled in second place currently. Coach Jan Everse will even be hoping he can make up the three point deficit on RKC over the final games to secure the title, although the playoffs also offer the prize of promotion to the top flight.

Whatever happens between now and the end of the campaign, it has to be said that so far Everse has got the best out of his squad – the youngest in either division. Indeed, FC Zwolle only have the tenth biggest budget in the league, always an important indicator of where a club will finish come season’s end.

KNVB CUP
Feyenoord – FC Zwolle
Thursday 28 February, 20:45 at De Kuip
Referee:
Van Egmond

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Feyenoord: Timmer; Fer, Greene, Hofland, De Cler; Landzaat, Hofs, Van Bronckhorst; De Guzman, Makaay, Bruins
FC Zwolle: Boer; Van der Wal, Moisander, Reijnen, Van der Haar; Zuidam, Jongsma, Garritsen; Van Polen, Tozé, Kleizen

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