FEYENOORD LOOKING TO GET BACK ON TRACK IN TILBURG

Feyenoord came back down to earth with a bang Wednesday, crashing out of the KNVB Cup to RKC and the extra half hour will have done no good to tired legs, but the Rotterdammers still hope to hit the ground running Sunday at Willem II as they attempt to secure a fourth successive Eredivisie win against an their underachieving Tilburg opponents. They will have to do it without any backing as no Feyenoord fans will be travelling to the match.

Erwin Koeman’s team will be lacking their celebrated twelfth man as the club was unable to accept the conditions imposed on Feyenoord’s travelling support, which would have required fans to purchased a combination coach travel and match ticket package. That would have forced every supporter to travel to De Kuip to take the coach to Tilburg, which considering Feyenoord’s fans live all over the country was clearly unreasonable. The decision disadvantages the players of course, but as professionals they are expected to cope with the one-sided atmosphere.

They will be stimulated by the desire to wash away the bad taste of Wednesday’s cup defeat in Waalwijk. Despite the cup exit Feyenoord go to Tilburg on the back of three league wins based on grit and determination, so there’s every reason to be optimistic. The Maassiders have yet to cut loose however, winning those matches by the odd goal every time and the loss against RKC highlighted the team’s difficulties at the moment.

Erwin Koeman certainly has little to smile about on the injury front, with Jonathan de Guzman looking unlikely to play against Willem II after picking up an ankle knock midweek. Another doubt is Angelos Charisteas, who is still troubled by a groin strain. The twosome did both take part in Friday training however. Tim Vincken is also doubtful with a hamstring problem.

Definitely unavailable for selection are Patrick Lodewijks, Ron Vlaar, Romeo Castelen, Pieter Collen, Alfred Schreuder and Sherif Ekramy.

Willem II have become a regular fixture in the lower reaches of the Eredivisie in recent years. Last season’s dramatic showing resulted in coach Robert Maaskant getting the sack, but his replacement Kees Zwamborn was unable to turn the tide. The Tilburg faithful will have been hoping that their club would be able to improve on last years seventeenth place – a finish that allowed Willem II to secure their Eredivisie status through the playoffs. This season has seen the appointment of a new coach – Dennis van Wijk – but the same old story on the pitch, although there has been some consolidation in recent weeks.

Last week the Tilburg outfit did well to claim victory against NEC to add to a win against Heracles in mid-October and keep the side out of the bottom three, although those wins were separated by losses at high-flying AZ (4-0) and bottom-of-the-table Sparta (1-0).

Van Wijk’s major problem is getting goals out of his team. Willem II have netted just nine times in eleven matches. The coach can invoke a raft of injuries as a mitigating circumstance. Mounir El Hamdaoui could have made a name for himself this season but the Rotterdam-born striker tore his cruciate ligament and he’s been ruled out for months. Iwan Redan has also been on the sidelines, although he’s now available for selection again, as is attacking midfielder Anouir Hadouir, all of which suggests there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully Willem II will still be in the dark by around half past two on Sunday afternoon.

EREDIVISIE
Willem II-Feyenoord
Sunday 12 November, 12:30 at Willem II Stadium
Referee: Van Hulten

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Greene, Lucius, Bahia; Buijs, Hofs, De Guzman (Pardo); Kolkka, Van Hooijdonk (Charisteas), Huysegems
Willem II: Sengier; Wau, Bælum, Van der Struijk, Valencia; Imschoot, Assou-Ekotto, Kargbo; Messoudi, Redan, Bobson

LAST TEN LEAGUE MEETINGS

DE KUIP
29/12/2005 Feyenoord - Willem II 6-1
13/2/2005 Feyenoord - Willem II 7-0
26/10/2003 Feyenoord - Willem II 2-1
26/10/2002 Feyenoord - Willem II 5-1
25/11/2001 Feyenoord - Willem II 3-1

WILLEM II STADIUM
30/10/2005 Willem II - Feyenoord 1-3
22/8/2004 Willem II - Feyenoord 0-4
29/2/2004 Willem II - Feyenoord 0-3
25/5/2003 Willem II - Feyenoord 1-1
5/5/2002 Willem II - Feyenoord 0-0
Feyenoord Business CLub
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