‘A great unknown’ was the first and most common reaction among the Feyenoord roster after the Rotterdammers were pitted against Romanian opposition in the draw for the first round of the Uefa Cup Friday. Only John Metgod had more than a clichéd response about solid Eastern bloc football. The assistant coach visited the Giulesti stadium a year or two ago on a scouting mission and saw Rapid take on city rivals National.

Metgod clearly remembers the atmosphere. ‘It was very hectic, with the fanatic support behind the goal like at Feyenoord. The supporters were pretty wild so I think there’ll be enough of an atmosphere at the game. I cannot say a great deal about how they play, because I cannot remember much. We now have the task of forming as complete a picture as possible, gathering information and visiting a game ourselves.’ 

One place they won’t be looking for information is the Feyenoord dressing room. But ignorance does not breed contempt. ‘We didn’t know Odd Grenland and we had quite a tough time there,’ says Patrick Lodewijks. ‘And we’ll be playing the home game without fans and that obviously doesn’t help. I expect them to be tough.’

Lodewijks and his teammates do give Feyenoord the edge. ‘It’s logical, because we play in a stronger league with bigger names,’ says Hossam Ghaly. ‘We have to get through the first round whatever, that’s clear.’  

Karim Saidi agrees: ‘The only thing that matters is getting through to the group stages. I don’t know them and I don’t think we’ll have it easy, but I do think we should go through.’ ’

’I’ve actually only played against an eastern European side once,’ adds Ali Boussaboun. That was in preseason with Feyenoord against Újpest. I though they were a tough side and I have the feeling this could be the same.’ 

Ghaly played in three Bucharest tournaments in his time at Al Ahly, but never actually played against Rapid, although he did get an impression of the Romanian style of football. ‘I noticed it was highly disciplined. They play 4-4-2, are fairly technical, but emphasise the physical aspect. That is also their strength, because they are somewhat less technical than we are. It’s more a general impression; maybe it won’t apply to Rapid at all. We’ll soon find out.’



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