Feyenoord earned their third Johan Cruijff Shield win in their history in Eindhoven on Saturday evening. Head coach Giovann...
Feyenoord will be battling for all three points in Friday night’s match at Heerenveen. While that sounds a little self-evident, coach Erwin Koeman felt the need to say it loud and clear a day before a game that is a must-win for the Friesians. Some people have suggested that a home win would suit Feyenoord down to the ground, as Heerenveen would then jump above Ajax into fifth place in the Eredivisie – the final CL playoff position – ahead of the Amsterdam outfit’s Sunday head-to-head against AZ.
‘We will not consciously play to draw or lose,’ says Koeman however. ‘I cannot imagine that; that’s not how sport should be. We want to beat Heerenveen and that is what we will be going for.’
The coach will most likely have to get it without the help of Dirk Kuyt, who is suffering with a foot problem. One person who definitely won’t be available is Maikel Aerts, who is not in the squad. Last week’s blunder against FC Twente led the keeper to ask to be subbed, which Koeman agreed to do. After the game the coach confirmed that Sherif Ekramy would be first-choice keeper until Patrick Lodewijks returns to full fitness. At that early stage Koeman had not decided whether Aerts would be given a place on the bench, but four days later he was pretty clear in his own mind what he had to do. ‘I expressed my opinion openly on Maikel’s situation on Sunday. I’d like to leave it at that. I have spoken with him, listened to him and explained what I think. Stef Doedee will be on the bench on Friday. I don’t know who long that will continue. Patrick Lodewijks will join the squad again on Monday or Tuesday and he may be able to keep goal a week on Sunday. I don’t know whether I will immediately drop Ekramy, it depends on how he does. This is an opportunity for him of course; that’s how things work.’
If Kuyt does pass a fitness test, Kalou is likely to take his place in attack. Koeman is unlikely to put his star striker at risk just a couple of games before the start of the playoffs, so Friday will probably see the end of a unique sequence. Because Kuyt has not missed a single Eredivisie game for FC Utrecht or Feyenoord since 18 March 2001. ‘Clearly I don’t want to put my players in any danger at this stage. If he’s at risk – and I’ll hear that from my medical staff – he won’t be playing. He will be travelling to Heerenveen though,’ confirmed Koeman.
Otherwise, the coach will be without Patrick Lodewijks, Alfred Schreuder and Tim Vincken for the trip north. Lodewijks has been training outside this week, but he’s not fit enough to pull on the keeper’s jersey yet. Vincken and Schreuder continue to work on their fitness in the gym.
A win for Heerenveen will put the Friesian club back in the top five ahead of Ajax and FC Groningen for a couple of days at least. But with their northern neighbours away to champions-elect PSV and Ajax faced with a tough match against AZ, Gert Jan Verbeek’s team would fancy their chances of holding onto the final Champions League playoff place if they manage to slay the Rotterdammers.
Recent form does not bode well for the Frisians – Heerenveen go into Friday’s game on the back of a 1-4 reverse at NEC – but Feyenoord are not in the habit of taking anything away from the Abe Lenstra Stadium, with just one point in the last five visits.
SC Heerenveen – Feyenoord
Friday 7 April 2006, 20:30 at the Abe Lenstra Stadium
Feyenoord: Ekramy; Collen, Vlaar, Bahia, Bosschaart; Greene, De Guzman, Hofs; Castelen, Kalou (Kuyt), Boussaboun.
Heerenveen: Vandenbussche; Poulsen, Breuer, Hansson, Derveld; Bosvelt, Nørregaard, Pranjic; Yildirim, Bruggink, Nilsson.
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