Bert van Marwijk pointed up the value of Wednesday’s cup victory against FC Utrecht in his pre-match conference ahead of Saturday’s Eredivisie game against Heerenveen at De Kuip. ‘That game was more important for us than many people thought,’ said the Feyenoord coach Friday afternoon. ‘Losing 4-0 in Eindhoven is a blow when you’ve won your first four games of the season. It was psychologically very important to see how we got over it.’

Van Marwijk was delighted with the way FC Utrecht were swept aside. While Feyenoord showed little initiative in the first half Wednesday evening, the fine performance after the break pleased the coach no end. ‘You can learn so much by asking why the second half went so much better than the first,’ posited Van Marwijk.

The coach repeated the words he spoke on the eve of the cup-tie ahead of the club’s return to Eredivisie action. ‘We must not underestimate the opposition.’ According to Van Marwijk, who believes that Afonso Alves will start, the Frisians are better than their lowly position in the table – twelfth – would suggest. ‘They’ve had a bit of bad luck on two occasions, but they can certainly play.’

Kevin Hofland and Theo Lucius are both doubtful for the game. Hofland came out of the PSV match with a bruised foot and missed the midweek win against FC Utrecht, but he has made a good recovery in recent days. Van Marwijk feels that the defender has a good chance of making the cut.

Lucius on the other hand is facing a tougher battle. The defender’s groin problem kept him out of Thursday and Friday training and Van Marwijk is not hopeful. ‘He is very doubtful,’ admitted the coach.

One player who will not be pitted against Heerenveen is Chun-Soo Lee. The striker trained with the rest of the squad for the first time Friday after negotiating a number of niggles this week. A lack of match fitness is also a problem for the South Korean.

For decades, Heerenveen was a beacon is continuity in the otherwise ever-changing world of football. Current Dutch under 21s coach Foppe de Haan for instance spent 19 consecutive years on the club’s coaching staff, the last 12 of them as head coach, and had a close relationship with chairman Riemer van der Velde.

Against that background, the hullabaloo in Friesland at the beginning of this season has surprised many. The status of want-away Afonso Alves turned into a bit of a soap when the Brazilian decided that staying away was the best policy. There was unrest in the boardroom too as Koos Formsma resigned as chairman just nine months into his reign and tennis coach Tjerk Bogtstra’s appointment as personal coach was called off at the last moment.

Even the normally exemplary Heerenveen supporters have been having a grumble. Alves was given some verbal abuse in the side’s game at Excelsior, but in the recent cup-tie between Heerenveen reserves and PSV the Brazilian was given a good reception.

Gertjan Verbeek seems to have some problems coping too, although the coach is remaining calm. The 4-1 defeat at Ajax brought things to a head however, when Verbeek was sent to the stands after arguing with the fourth official.

The fastest route to still waters would appear to be a couple of wins in the Eredivisie to move Heerenveen out of the bottom half of the table. It will be Feyenoord’s job to delay any Friesian revival for at least another week.

Feyenoord – Heerenveen
Saturday 29 September, 20:00 at De Kuip

Timmer; Lucius (D. Buijs), Hofland (J. Buijs), Bahia, De Cler; Sahin, Hofs, Van Bronckhorst; De Guzman, Makaay, Bruins
Heerenveen: Vandenbussche; Zuiverloon, Bak Nielsen, Dingsdag, Breuer; Beerens Bradley, Roorda, Pranjic; Alves (Sibon), Sulejmani

03/12/2006 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 4-3
18/09/2005 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 5-1
01/05/2005 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 1-3
07/03/2004 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 2-2
22/03/2003 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 5-0

03/12/2006 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 4-3
18/09/2005 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 5-1
01/05/2005 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 1-3
07/03/2004 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 2-2
22/03/2003 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 5-0
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