‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
With five games of the regular season still to play the title is as good as won, but there is still plenty of jockeying for position in the playoffs shake-up. For Erwin Koeman though, there’s another reason for aiming for a maximum points haul over the next four weeks: the supporters. ‘There will be forty thousand fans in the stands again on Sunday. They expect us to win and preferably playing good football. That alone is why I think it’s important we finish the league well.’
Saturday training will hopefully tell Erwin Koeman enough he needs to know about the availability of Maikel Aerts ahead of the coach’s team pick. The second-choice keeper has come in for Patrick Lodewijks, but a painful shoulder from the game at AZ has put his selection in danger. Aerts did get outside Friday for some tailored training. If the Dutchman gives the thumbs down, Sherif Ekramy will step up to the mark for his first appearance for the first team. Koeman feels that the Egyptian has potential, but that’s all it is at the moment. ‘If he wants to become first-choice keeper, he will have to improve a lot,’ says Koeman. ‘It goes for almost all keepers that they reach their peak at twenty-eight years of age and he is naturally still young. The advantage he has is that he has great presence; there is really someone in the goal. What’s more, he’s athletic, agile and he has a powerful jump.’
Aside from the goalie issue, Koeman has few worries ahead of the ADO game. Fortunately, actually, because Koeman feels that it is a must-win match for the Rotterdammers. ‘Also because we didn’t win the last game. We are obviously also trying to finish as high as possible. But it’s not to avoid Ajax, why would it be? I wouldn’t lose sleep if we had to meet them in the first round. But it is hard to think about that now. We will probably have to wait until the last game before saying who’ll finish where. From the fourth place down everyone is still bunched up and everything can change. I feel it’s important we win on Sunday in front of the forty thousand people that will be in the stands again. That’s what we should be thinking about.’
The defeat in Alkmaar last Sunday brought a black week to an end. ‘We played against twelve men against AZ, we were heavily disadvantaged by refereeing decisions,’ said Koeman looking back Friday. ‘It seemed as if it belonged to that week that it brought to a close.’ The coach feels that the atmosphere has been much more positive this week however. ‘It will undoubtedly be in the head of some players, but I haven’t noted any impact otherwise. We went golfing with the squad on Tuesday and it was fun. Alfred Schreuder has returned to the club to work on his rehab and that obviously has a positive effect.’
Feyenoord will be gunning to avenge the defeat they suffered the week before Christmas in The Hague, when ADO won 2-1, but with the visitors fighting to stay out of the relegation playoffs, the Maassiders will not be taking anything for granted against their near neighbours.
Feyenoord – ADO Den Haag
Sunday 26 March, 12:30 at De Kuip
Feyenoord: Aerts (Ekramy); Collen, Vlaar, Bahia, Bosschaart; Hofs, Paauwe, De Guzman; Castelen, Kuyt, Kalou.
ADO Den Haag: Drobny; El Akchaoui, Saavedra, Grujic, Bakkati; Rzasa, Jungschläger, De Graaf; Kolkka, Mols, Elia.
LATEST TEN LEAGUE MEETINGS
22-5-2005 Feyenoord – ADO Den Haag 6-3
7-12-2003 Feyenoord – ADO Den Haag 4-1
12-1-1992 Feyenoord – FC Den Haag 3-0
25-11-1990 Feyenoord – FC Den Haag 0-2
1-11-1989 Feyenoord – FC Den Haag 0-2
18-12-2005 ADO Den Haag – Feyenoord 2-1
19-12-2004 ADO Den Haag – Feyenoord 2-0
15-2-2004 ADO Den Haag – Feyenoord 2-2
13-10-1991 FC Den Haag – Feyenoord 1-4
5-5-1991 FC Den Haag – Feyenoord 0-2