CUP CHALLENGE A CHANCE TO RESTORE PRIDE

Feyenoord travel the breadth of the country for Wednesday’s cup round of the last sixteen against Roda JC. With Boxing Day’s crucial home match against AZ less than a week away, it’s an opportunity for the Rotterdammers to get their minds off the league, and the weekend’s terrible defeat at ADO. Erwin Koeman for one is under no illusions about the task facing his side. ‘It won’t be easy, because on paper you can say that we have the toughest draw.’

It’s an important game for Feyenoord – and one that Koeman will not start with the same eleven as against ADO Den Haag, confirmed the coach on the eve of the match. That is not down to the fitness of his players but simply to the poor performance in The Hague that earned his side an uncomfortable defeat. The coach did not name names, but there’s no confusion over whose reputation took a knock at the weekend. Hossam Ghaly didn’t have a good game according to his coach, but he will start Wednesday. There is little room for change in midfield with the continued absence of Nicky Hofs, Alfred Schreuder and Shinji Ono and up front Dirk Kuyt and Salomon Kalou would not appear to be in danger of sitting this one out. Ali Boussaboun had a poor game against ADO, but with only John Owoeri waiting in the wings the Moroccan would also seem to be safe for another ninety minutes. Pascal Bosschaart too looks secure. The axe will ultimately probably fall for Alexander Östlund, who had a bad first forty-five in The Hague. Pieter Collen may edge out the Swede. 
 
Koeman has spoken to his squad about the performance against ADO, but he didn’t get much of a response. ‘That is something you see nowadays,’ admits Koeman. ‘In a group there are a limited number of lads who dare open their mouths and dare put themselves in a vulnerable position. I feel that you sometimes have to be able to tell each other the truth, I was also used to that during my playing career. Nowadays it’s more difficult. Players are often each other’s friends and anyway it’s not in the nature of many players. I sometimes try to entice something out with a comment, but you don’t always get a response. It was a terrible game where we went behind with an incomprehensible handball. That gives you a rotten feeling, because you are behind after just one minute. From then on we were chasing the game, although we should have equalised or even gone 2-1 ahead. But it wasn’t Dirk’s day and it was shown that others were not up to taking over from him.’

Koeman feels it is important to point up Jonathan de Guzman’s performance – one of few good ones in The Hague. ‘It really shouldn’t be possible for a lad who has just broken through was the best player. But Jonathan is already such a good footballer. I saw that after just a few days in July when he came to train for the first time. He reads the game and few players have that nowadays. Aissati and Afellay have that too, but they have Phillip Cocu alongside them. Jonathan doesn’t and still plays very strongly. I feel that deserves a compliment.’
 
GATORADE CUP
Roda JC – Feyenoord
Wednesday 21 December, 20:45 at the Parkstad Limburg Stadium
Referee: Jol
 
PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Roda JC: Kujovic; Lachambre, Vicelich, Kah, Senden; Bodor, Sergio, G. van Dijk, Bodnar;  Oper, Cissé.
Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Östlund (Collen), Greene, Bahia, Bosschaart; Ghaly, Paauwe, De Guzman; Boussaboun, Kuyt, Kalou.
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