Training session are about improving the way you play but the matches themselves are sometimes about much more fundamental things and that will certainly be the case on Thursday evening. The return tie in the Uefa Cup first round against Lokomotiv Sofia is all about the result, because Feyenoord simply cannot contemplate elimination before the group stages of the competition kick in. ‘It’s not the way we play, but progression to the group phase that matters tomorrow,’ confirms Erwin Koeman, who also admits that he’s turning the heat up on his squad.

Feyenoord took three points from the city derby at the weekend, but Koeman was not exactly beaming when he met the press a day ahead of the tie with Lokomotiv. The coach admitted that he was disappointed with his team’s performance, although he managed to couch his thoughts in diplomatic terms. ‘My patience is less sizeable in some periods. The period in which I will approach things a little differently has arrived. I don’t want to have to blame myself later for not doing it a little differently. I’m adopting a tougher attitude to certain players. I’ll do so respectfully, but the tenor will be clear.’

Come what may, the most important thing on Thursday is the result. Although the first game ended 2-2, Feyenoord basically need a win against their Bulgarian opponents to qualify for the group stages of the Uefa Cup and a failure to get it will be nothing short of a disaster for the Rotterdammers. ‘We have to be very concentrated and focused on the result. It’s essential. That doesn’t mean we won’t play. If we retreat we will concede. That was shown in Bulgaria. We don’t have a team that finds it easy to play for a nil-nil draw.’

There’s a big question mark against Dwight Tiendalli’s chances of making the cut after being left out of Sunday’s win against Excelsior. Koeman explained his reasons on Wednesday. ‘Dwight is playing without any sort of confidence at the moment. That’s why I’ve pulled him out for a while. I’m giving him the time to settle in, because playing for Feyenoord is different to playing for Utrecht. It’s not easy for a young player to come into a team that is not doing so well. I feel I’m helping him by doing this. We have had a good talk about it. He understood. Dwight will have to get through this. If he does, he can come out of it stronger.’

Koeman took nineteen players away for a short training camp on Wednesday. Angelos Charisteas, who’s recovering from a groin strain, and Philippe Léonard, who has yet to join the squad, were part of the group that travelled. As was Timothy Derijck, which is no surprise, bearing in mind the injury problems at the back. Pieter Collen, Ron Vlaar and André Bahia are all unavailable. The coach will shave the group down to eighteen on the day of the match.

Feyenoord-Lokomotiv Sofia
Thursday 28 September, 19:45 at De Kuip
Timmer; Buijs, Greene, Saidi, Drenthe; Lucius, Hofs, De Guzman, Kolkka; Van Hooijdonk, Boussaboun.

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