Feyenoord returned from Eindhoven with more personnel problems than ever. Kevin Hofland was forced out of the game with a foot injury, while Nicky Hofs picked up a calf strain. Van Marwijk will have to wait until the day of the game before he has any clarity on which of them is available, if any. The coach is toying with the idea of allowing Hofland to play with injections in Feyenoord’s first cup-tie of the season. The defender will however have to have less pain – and less swelling – in his foot. ‘He has to be able to put his boots on first,’ said Van Marwijk. ‘He’s not there yet.’
The loss of Hofland would certainly add to Feyenoord’s defensive concerns. Bearing in mind Ron Vlaar’s knee injury, it would result in a completely new central-defensive pairing. Van Marwijk said Tuesday that he would have no choice but to add Serginho Greene to his squad again. The defender has been out with a knee injury for many months and is not totally ready for a return.
Van Marwijk’s decision to put Greene on the bench is proof of how important the match is to him. The Feyenoord coach has been happy to talk up the cup as the quickest route to European competition ‘and everything is secondary to that’.
While Feyenoord won at a relative canter in the season curtain raiser at Galgenwaard Stadium, but Van Marwijk is expecting a tough test this time round. ‘FC Utrecht are growing stronger, you can see that just from he results. They have yet to lose away from home this season. They have a good footballing side; I consider them to be difficult opponents.’
FC Utrecht has a reputation as a real cup team, especially thanks to three final appearances between 2002 and 2004, two of which were won. That includes the 2003 encounter against Feyenoord at De Kuip, when Utrecht won 4-1, with Dirk Kuyt scoring one of the goals.
Utrecht have made less of an impression in recent years however, with elimination at the hands of NAC Breda, VVV Venlo and AZ respectively, but the cup continues to be a priority. That’s why Bert van Marwijk’s men will do well not to underestimate their opponents, despite recording a 3-0 away victory a few weeks ago.
‘In the cup every tie is a winner-takes-all game, so small clubs can come out of their shell more,’ says Tim de Cler. The defender was in last year’s final on the side of AZ, who lost to Ajax on penalties. ‘It was still a unique experience,’ continues De Cler. One that he would like to repeat. ‘The best team on the night will win. That’s why it’s more tense than a league game, although it does have a certain degree of charm. If you have the supporters behind you, it’s certainly a big stimulus.’
Feyenoord – FC Utrecht
Wednesday 26 September, 20:45 at De Kuip
Feyenoord: Timmer; Lucius, Hofland (J. Buijs), Bahia, De Cler; Sahin, Hofs (Wijnaldum), Van Bronckhorst; De Guzman, Makaay, Bruins
FC Utrecht: Grandel; Cornelisse, Dickoh, Keller, Pieters; Van Dijk, Caluwé, Somers; George, Nelisse, Kopteff