TIME TO FOCUS ON FOOTBALL

The off-the-pitch action in Nancy tool all the headlines across Europe on Friday morning, but if Erwin Koeman has anything to do with it his squad will quickly put that out of their minds and concentrate on the matter at hand, which is Sunday’s game of football when Heerenveen visit De Kuip. The Feyenoord coach realised the importance of that straight after the debacle in Nancy. ‘It’s sour, but we have a very important match against Heerenveen on Sunday. As strange as it may seem to say that right now.’

Koeman was also the only person at Stade Marcel Picot to look back on the match. ‘They are two things I can keep separate, football and the rest,’ said the coach, before expressing his thoughts on the first two French goals. ‘I already knew that we were inferior to Nancy. But going two nil down through two standard situations angered me. It should never have been allowed to happen.’

If one thing is certain, it’s that the performance has to improve against Heerenveen. Feyenoord put in a poor display in northeast France – the second in five days – and the rot has to stop at De Kuip on Sunday. At least that’s what Koeman will be endeavouring to drum into his side by kick-off.

Pierre van Hooijdonk is likely to revert to the bench against seventh-place Heerenveen after starting alongside Charisteas in Nancy in an attempt by Koeman to temper the threat of a strong home side. The return was meagre though and Joonas Kolkka is likely to reclaim is place in the starting line-up.

The big question is whether Theo Lucius will be fit enough to play. If the club captain is not then Timothy Derijck is expected to start again. Dwight Tiendalli is a second uncertainty, although he would not be as sorely missed as the skipper and Greene is comfortable at right back too. Nicky Hofs will probably have a place in Koeman’s team too after sitting on the bench in France as part of his comeback from a light injury.

Feyenoord’s opponents current seventh place has not set off any fireworks in Heerenveen, but the gap to fourth-place FC Twente is just five points so there is still time for pyrotechnics in Friesland. Verbeek recently expressed his lack of understanding for the high expectations among the club’s fans. ‘They think we can wipe the floor with Ajax and beat PSV at the drop of a hat, but Ajax is a real title candidate and PSV is almost unbeatable this season. Don’t misunderstand me, I think we could play better football too. We are too unpredictable, but we beat Willem II 5-0, NEC 3-0, FC Groningen 4-2 and we drew 0-0 against PSV. That’s not bad is it?’

Bearing in mind the personnel however they could be said to be underachieving. Paul Bosvelt is showing week in week out that he’s still good enough to play at this level, while Danijel Pranjic balances the former Feyenoord favourite’s firmness with flair. Up front meanwhile, Afonso Alves is a target man and a target hitter – he has 14 already this season – while Lasse Nilsson and Ugur Yildirim are the suppliers, although the Turk will miss Sunday’s match with a muscle strain. Further downfield central defender Petter Hansson is one of the Eredivisie’s best, while Michael Dingsdag has proven he is reliable.

The midweek win in Arnhem took the Frisian side to within three points of Feyenoord and Gert Jan Verbeek’s side will be hoping to collect their second De Kuip win in three visits to put further pressure on the home club.

EREDIVISIE
Feyenoord–SC Heerenveen
Sunday 3 December, 14:30 at De Kuip
Referee: Gumienny (Belgium)

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Feyenoord: Timmer; Greene, Saidi, Bahia, Drenthe; Derijck (Lucius), De Guzman, Hofs; Kolkka, Charisteas, Huysegems
SC Heerenveen: Vandenbussche; Bradley, Dingsdag, Hansson, Breuer; Bosvelt, Hanssen, Pranjic; Afonso Alves, Friend, Nilsson

LAST TEN LEAGUE MEETINGS
DE KUIP
18/9/2005 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 5-1
1/5/2005 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 1-3
7/3/2004 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 2-2
22/3/2003 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 5-0
28/4/2002 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 3-2
ABE LENSTRA STADIUM
7/4/2006 SC Heerenveen - Feyenoord 1-1
28/11/2004 SC Heerenveen - Feyenoord 2-2
23/8/2003 SC Heerenveen - Feyenoord 1-0
7/12/2002 SC Heerenveen - Feyenoord 3-1
1/12/2001 SC Heerenveen - Feyenoord 1-0
Feyenoord Business CLub
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