‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Sunday sees De Kuip host the fiftieth edition of Feyenoord v Ajax and while the Rotterdammers have been made favourites against their underachieving Amsterdam rivals, coach Erwin Koeman is a little less wiling to prejudge things. ‘I understand others have made us favourites and I don’t have any problems with that. But as the coach I have different ideas. I don’t really believe so much in making one team favourites. As always, this is a game in its own right, in which we will have to perform from half past twelve on Sunday afternoon.’
There is plenty of speculation about how Feyenoord will line up against their archrivals Sunday, but that’s all it will be until just before kick-off. At right back, Serginho Greene is in a race against time as he tries to prove he’s shaken off a groin problem. Pieter Collen may take his place. But the biggest question mark is in midfield, where Sebastián Pardo’s chances of making the cut are minimal (Koeman: ‘his availability is very doubtful’), which leaves the coach short of viable options. He may choose to give Van Hooijdonk a start up front, pulling Dirk Kuyt into midfield, or he may move Bosschaart up from defence and bring in Royston Drenthe at left back. ‘I’m not ruling out those scenarios, they are possibilities,’ says Koeman.
Whether Pardo makes it or not, it’s clear that Feyenoord’s midfield options are sparse. Koeman agrees, which is why he tried to bring in a midfielder in the recent transfer window. ‘I’m not saying who it was, but I can say that it was a loan deal for the rest of the season. His club wouldn’t play ball, otherwise he would have been here now. I do have options in midfield if I lose someone and until now we’ve coped reasonably well with a stretched midfield. Hopefully that will continue.
Feyenoord have already beaten PSV and AZ at De Kuip this term and victory over Ajax would give them the double over the Amsterdam outfit this season. Koeman feels that says something important about his team. ‘It shows that we made a good impression in those games and that the team is mentally very strong. But that will not help us on Sunday; that’s another game. We must not give Ajax the opportunity to play. In most of the games we have approached the opposition aggressively and that will be needed on Sunday too. We can defend up field without losing sight of our defensive organisation. That will hopefully lead us to victory on Sunday.’
Sunday 5 February 2006, 12.30 at De Kuip
Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Greene (Collen), Vlaar, Bahia, Bosschaart; Paauwe, Hofs, De Guzman; Castelen, Kuyt, Kalou.
Ajax: Stekelenburg; Grygera, Maduro, Vermaelen, Emanuelson; Galasek, Sneijder, Lindenbergh; Rosales, Huntelaar, Rosenberg.
17/4/2005 Feyenoord - Ajax 2-3
11/4/2004 Feyenoord - Ajax 1-1
6/10/2002 Feyenoord - Ajax 1-2
26/8/2001 Feyenoord - Ajax 1-2
10/12/2000 Feyenoord - Ajax 3-1
28/8/2005 Ajax - Feyenoord 1-2
14/11/2004 Ajax - Feyenoord 1-1
30/11/2003 Ajax - Feyenoord 2-0
9/2/2003 Ajax - Feyenoord 1-1
3/3/2002 Ajax - Feyenoord 1-1
Watch the highlights of last season’s game here.