Feyenoord went down to a 1-0 defeat in their first Europa League Group G match against Rangers on Thursday night. Head coac...
Erwin Koeman’s squad completed its first training session in China Saturday. The purpose of the session was to get the players acclimatised to the climate conditions that Feyenoord will be expected to work in over the coming days. Koeman is not interested in hearing any complaints about the weather. ‘Now we’re here we have to make the best of it. I don’t want the players to grumble about the heat or the time difference. Everyone will just have to get over that.’
The coach – who’s been to China twice before with PSV – feels the difficult conditions in Nanjing can benefit his squad. ‘At times like these you see how good the players are mentally. This week will show who wants to go all the way and who doesn’t.’ Despite the thirty-plus-degree temperatures, extremely high humidity, an eighteen-hour journey in the muscles and a six-hour time difference the Feyenoord players were given a tough opening-day programme by fitness trainer Pierre Regnault.
Despite only a week’s serious work with his squad, Koeman feels he already has a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses, although the new coach is not interested in naming names. ‘The only thing I know for sure is that our first priority is building a good organisation and not conceding goals. That’s an aspect that I’m concentrating on first, because I’m not too concerned about our strengths in attack.’
For Koeman, reports about Kalou, who flirted with PSV in the Dutch media a day before the club flew out to China have not changed that. ‘I spoke with Salomon last week. He knows the club’s position in this matter. I find it difficult to talk about this openly, because any reaction I give will in turn provoke reactions from others and no one benefits from that. It’s very simple: Feyenoord is still talking with Kalou about an extension to his contract. So we’re still working hard with him, but apparently other people are too, although they are thinking more of themselves.’