‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
There will be a full house at FC Groningen’s new Euroborg facility when Feyenoord come to town for a late afternoon kick-off Sunday. With leaders PSV away to AZ, Erwin Koeman knows that he needs a win, but he also knows that taking three points from his former club will be no easy assignment. ‘Groningen are doing well and we will have to contend with a hundred and twenty per cent effort.’
PSV have a testing schedule right now, with a double header against Lyon in the Champions League and away matches in the Eredivisie at both AZ and Ajax. Rotterdam is hoping that Guus Hiddink’s side come out the other end a few points the lighter. Feyenoord are already out of the both domestic and European cups and would therefore appear to have a slight advantage. ‘Maybe that’s true,’ says Koeman. ‘At the end of the day it’s about who is mentally stronger and who has the most energy. The competitors are playing extra games, which obviously saps energy. On the other hand, there are a lot of young lads in this team who are new to it all and this title race is asking a lot of them. It also takes mental strength to always be chasing. PSV can make a error; that’s not a problem for them.’
The Maassiders cannot afford a single slip-up however and that includes Sunday’s game at high-flying FC Groningen. The hosts are in great form, especially at their new Euroborg arena. But Koeman sees a chink of light: ‘They have played a little less good in the last two or three games. But this will be a hard-fought game. I remember that when I played for Groningen. They will give their all; it’s down to us to make our presence felt on Sunday. It’s precisely these games that are the attractive ones.’
Feyenoord are likely to start the game in the same formation Erwin Koeman has fielded in recent weeks. Happily, the squad came through the mid-week charity fundraiser against KV Mechelen unscathed. That team included Mohammed Abubakari, who the coach saw in action for the first time. The Ghanaian certainly impressed, although he did have a couple of reservations. ‘I saw that he can play football well. But I also noticed that he has not had enough opposition in this own country. His speed of action has to increase. He passes the ball back a lot too, when he should be going forward. We have to start work on that, but it’s obvious he can kick a ball.’ There is no news on whether the Feyenoord Fetteh Football Academy student will make the cut Sunday.
A win for Feyenoord will in turn be FC Groningen’s first league loss at Euroborg. That particular stat will be eclipsed by a more important one should PSV lose to AZ in an earlier Sunday kick-off, because narrowing the gap on the league leaders is much more important than breaking Groningen hearts.
FC Groningen – Feyenoord
Sunday 26 February 2006, 16:30 at the Euroborg Stadium
Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Greene, Vlaar, Bahia, Bosschaart; Hofs, Paauwe, De Guzman; Castelen, Kuyt, Kalou.
FC Groningen: Roorda; Van der Linden, Florén, Sankoh, Kruiswijk; Fledderus, Van de Laak, Lindgren, Buijs; Cornelisse, Nevland.
LAST TEN LEAGUE MEETINGS
16/10/2005 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 4-1
21/11/2004 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 1-2
2/5/2004 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 1-2
23/2/2003 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 4-1
14/10/2001 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 1-0
24/4/2005 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 0-2
2/11/2003 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 3-3
3/11/2002 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 0-2
10/2/2002 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 0-1
17/12/2000 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 1-0