In the wake of the heavy home defeat to FC Groningen last week, Erwin Koeman did not feel that it was the time to talk things through with his players. The Feyenoord coach feels his team has to show ‘what we are fighting for this season’ on the pitch. A synthetic one in the case of Heracles Almelo, who host the Rotterdammers in another crunch Eredivisie match for both sides Sunday at Polman stadium.

‘There’s nothing better than a good pitch,’ said Erwin Koeman Friday with a big smile. Sunday’s game will be played on the home club’s artificial surface and the coach held two training sessions on a similar field this week to give his players a chance to get used to it. ‘On a good pitch good players can display their qualities the best,’ explained Koeman with a nod to last week’s performance on a bumpy surface. The coach admitted Friday that some of his squad are making the same mistakes over and again. ‘We got the video out again this week to show again where things have to improve.’

Koeman can look forward to the return of Danny Buijs and Royston Drenthe, who were both suspended against FC Groningen last week. It’s unclear however whether this will result in Georginio Wijnaldum losing his place. The sixteen-year-old made his debut last week. ‘It’s impressive what he did against Groningen. Georginio is a positive personality who isn’t afraid of investing a lot of energy in a game.’

The coach suggests that he has not yet made his decision as to Wijnaldum’s inclusion. ‘I’m not afraid of starting again with a young boy of sixteen. I look at quality, not at age; I’ve always said that. On the other hand, there is a lot of pressure on the team and I don’t think a sixteen-year-old should have to pull the team through. That’s for other, more experienced lads to do.’

Koeman will announce his team Saturday. Sherif Ekramy will in any event not be in it. The Egyptian keeper has a groin strain and Erwin Mulder will take his place on the bench. Alfred Schreuder is in the squad however, despite missing a couple of training sessions this week due to a light knock.

Heracles were a nailed-on relegation certainty ahead of their second-ever top-flight campaign. In their annual preseason poll writers at Dutch football magazine Voetbal International chose the Almelo outfit to either go down directly or to end up in the relegation playoffs.

Last season the club showed they were capable of more than they were being given credit for, ending in an impressive thirteenth place in their freshman Eredivisie season. Given the club’s resources that was probably the most Heracles could hope to achieve. Things are not quite going so well this season howver, owing in no small measure to the departure of important players like Brian van Loo, Mika Nurmela, Gert Jan Tamerus and Sota Hirayama.

Yet despite being sixteenth in the league, Heracles have continued to perform well in their sophomore seaon. Coach Ruud Brood’s side has claimed impressive victories over FC Twente (3-0), FC Utrecht (3-0) and NAC Breda (2-0), and even taken points off AZ and FC Twente (again) in recent weeks. The club has also suffered heavy defeats mind, including those at Excelsior (1-6), AZ (0-5) and SC Heerenveen (1-5).

Unsurprisingly perhaps, all of Heracles’ good days have come at home. Only four sides have left Polman stadium with maximum points, while another six have managed a draw.

Heracles welcome another Rotterdam side Excelsior to Almelo next week for the last home game of the season and that will be a real six-pointer as the sides are separated by just one point. If results go Heracles way and they end up avoiding the relegation playoffs for the second campaign in succession, theirs will be nothing short of another successful season.

Heracles Almelo - Feyenoord
Sunday 15 April, 14:30 at Polman Stadion

Referee: Van Hulten

Heracles: Pieckenhagen; De Vries, Wuytens, Bosnar, Klavan; Bridji, Quansah, Daelemans, Schilder; Gluscevic, Friend
Feyenoord: Timmer; Buijs, Vlaar, Saidi, Bahia; Schreuder, De Guzman, Drenthe; Castelen, Charisteas, Van Hooijdonk


27/08/2006 Feyenoord - Heracles Almelo 0-0
27/11/2005 Feyenoord - Heracles Almelo 7-1

29/01/2006 Heracles Almelo - Feyenoord 0-4
Feyenoord Business CLub