‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Feyenoord just nicked past first division side Veendam on Thursday, but the Rotterdammers still came out of the tie with renewed optimism. As strange as it may sound, despite the 3-2 score line, Feyenoord took a lot from the way their approached the game. Erwin Koeman’s side found it tougher going in Veendam and never really managed to control the game in spite of the ostensible gulf in quality, but resilience was something Feyenoord had in spades from start to finish. ‘We have to build on that,’ declares the coach.
Koeman has no complaints about the prevailing mindset in his squad at the moment. Feyenoord have battled hard over the past few weeks. After the loss to PSV in Eindhoven Pierre van Hooijdonk acknowledged that commitment to the cause is key when you have the wind in your teeth. ‘That’s how you can turn things around. The will and the effort were there; the confidence will come automatically.’ That didn’t prove to be the case against Veendam, although Feyenoord continued to battle to create their own luck. The result was a hard-fought win, which match-winner Ali Boussaboun is hopeful the experience will drive the team on. ‘We have to build on this victory.’
Feyenoord will certainly have to cut down drastically on the number of unforced errors in the derby against Excelsior ‘Sometimes simple ABCs went wrong,’ says Koeman. ‘that is frustrating. We coaches tend to knock on endlessly about that, because a team like Excelsior could punish those errors on Sunday.’
In terms of personnel, Angelos Charisteas remains a doubt with a groin strain. If the Greek does not make the cut Koeman is likely to send out the same eleven that started Thursday’s cup match.
Excelsior have been in the shadow of their more illustrious Rotterdam neighbours Sparta and Feyenoord for the full hundred years of its existence, but the club from the city’s Kralingen district are the highest-placed Rotterdam outfit in the Eredivisie table going into the game. That’s partly due to Feyenoord’s shaky start to the season, but Excelsior have put in some good performances this term too.
A nailed-on relegation favourite going into the season, Excelsior lost the curtain-raiser against Roda JC by the only goal – scored by Chris Gyan, who misses the match against his former club by the way. But a point in Waalwijk against RKC bolstered confidence and Heerenveen felt the full force in the next game as Excelsior ran out 3-1 winners. A week later coach Ton Lokhoof guided his side to their second win of the season, this time against Willem II.
Those seven points and especially the effort shown are proof that Lokhoff has managed to mould a well balanced team. The defence is not overflowing with technical skill but it is solid, which is much more important when you’ve been typecast as the club most likely to fail. Jos van Nieuwstadt’s biggest asset is his mentality, in much the same way as Christian Gyan’s is. Add the experience of Sieme Zijm and the talent of Henrico Drost to the mix and you have a back line that has given many a forward a bad day at the office.
The midfield comprises former Feyenoorder René van Dieren, one-time PSVer Daniel Guijo-Velasco and rough diamond Luigi Bruins, all players who are looking to go on to bigger and better things. In attack meanwhile Andwelé Slory is a technically gifted speed merchant, while Guillano Grot is expected to rattle off the goals, although it’s Sebastiaan Steur who has netted two up to now and Slory even has three to his name.
Feyenoord – Excelsior
Sunday 24 September, 14:30 at De Kuip
Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Greene, Saidi, Bahia; Buijs, De Guzman, Lucius, Hofs; Kolkka, Van Hooijdonk (Charisteas).
Excelsior: Zwarthoed; Bandjar (Gyan), Drost, Van Nieuwstadt, Zijm; Van Dieren, Bruins, Guijo-Velasco; Slory, Simr, Steur.
LAST TEN LEAGUE MEETINGS
10/9/2002 Feyenoord - Excelsior 4-1
21/9/1986 Feyenoord - Excelsior 5-0
3/11/1985 Feyenoord - Excelsior 2-1
25/4/1985 Feyenoord - Excelsior 2-1
30/10/1983 Feyenoord - Excelsior 4-0
8/3/2003 Excelsior - Feyenoord 2-6
5/4/1987 Excelsior - Feyenoord 1-6
27/4/1986 Excelsior - Feyenoord 2-1
4/11/1984 Excelsior - Feyenoord 2-4
15/4/1984 Excelsior - Feyenoord 0-2