Leo Beenhakker has no doubts about Feyenoord’s capacity to ease past FC Groningen in the Uefa Cup playoff semi-final that gets underway Thursday at the Euroborg stadium. Three days is too little to create a new Feyenoord to face the challenge, but the caretaker coach feels his side will show more belief and conviction than has been evident latterly. ‘It is impossible to turn the world upside down in a couple of days. But on Thursday I would like to see a battling Feyenoord that is hopefully a small percentage better than in recent weeks.’

The Poland coach was pleased with his first few days on the training pitch, although Beenhakker did admit that both he and the players need time to get used to each other. ‘These days have been a great pleasure for me. We have been able to train well for three days. There’s nothing wrong with this group’s ambition; some of the lads even want too much.’

It’s one of the reasons Beenhakker is full of confidence going into the double-header against FC Groningen. ‘It’s not about whether this Feyenoord is good or bad, it’s about whether this Feyenoord is good enough to beat Groningen. I would say this Feyenoord is good enough to do the job. And I say that with all respect for FC Groningen.'

Beenhakker has remained tight-lipped about his formation and personnel. The players heard on Wednesday morning whether they are playing. 'I have selected a logical eleven from my point of view,’ said Beenhakker The caretaker has a full complement to choose from, save long-term treatment room regulars Serginho Greene and Patrick Lodewijks.

Beenhakker feels that Thursday’s game has a lot of similarities with a European Cup match. 'It’s a knockout system; it’s no longer just one of the 34 games. It demands a different approach. Everyone needs to realise that, from the technical staff to the reserve players.’

The 20-man party left Rotterdam for the north on Wednesday afternoon. Including Karim Saidi, who was banished to the reserves a couple of weeks ago. Beenhakker has brought the Tunisian back into the fold because he wants to have three central defenders available. Timothy Derijck is unavailable due to suspension.


Pierre van Hooijdonk’s sigh when he heard that FC Groningen would be Feyenoord’s opponents in the playoff semi-final spoke volumes. The green and whites have been lord and master over the Rotterdammers this season, winning at home in the first game of the campaign 3-0 and completing the double at De Kuip with a 4-0 victory. The three points at De Kuip were especially welcome as it was one of a sequence of four victories that secured FC Groningen a place in the top nine.

Last year’s traumatic playoffs, which saw Groningen denied a place in the Champions League qualifiers by Ajax, will be vital experience for Ron Jans side as Groningen attempt to secure UEFA Cup football for the second successive year.

The coaching shake-up at Feyenoord has not pleased Groningen coach Ron Jans, who felt the effect of a new regime first hand when ADO Den Haag crushed his side 5-2 at Euroborg stadium, after Lex Schoenmaker took over the reins from Frans Adelaar. That was the first home defeat in the club’s spanking new stadium. It was also the start of a poor run in which Groningen won just one game in six, losing the other five. The side did recover somewhat though, which is why they find themselves facing Feyenoord in the playoffs.

Despite losing the last match of the regular campaign at home to FC Utrecht, Groningen generally finished the season handsomely and Feyenoord will do well to leave Euroborg still in contention for a place in the final.

FC Groningen - Feyenoord
Thursday 10 May, 20:00 at Euroborg stadium

FC Groningen: Van Loo; Svejdik, Sankoh, Kruiswijk, Van der Linden; Van de Laak, Lovre, Holla, Levchenko; Suárez, Nevland
Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Vlaar, Bahia, Drenthe; Buijs, Lucius, De Guzman; Castelen, Charisteas, Huysegems



08/04/2007 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 0-4
16/10/2005 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 4-1
21/11/2004 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 1-2
02/05/2004 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 1-2
23/02/2003 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 4-1

200/8/2006 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 3-0
26/02/2006 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 1-1
24/04/2005 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 0-2
02/11/2003 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 3-3
03/11/2002 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 0-2

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