After the painful defeat at Den Bosch Feyenoord have a chance to redeem themselves Sunday when arch rivals Ajax come to town. It’s the first of two big games in four days at De Kuip with a cup semi against PSV just around the corner. ‘We obviously have to win to retain a small chance of second place,’ says Ruud Gullit. ‘Never say never, but it’s getting tougher and tougher. So Sunday is purely and simply a matter of prestige.’

The KO against the league’s bottom club was a real wakeup call for Gullit, who was up at five in the morning Thursday only to find the nightmare was reality. ‘I haven’t slept since,’ admitted Gullit. ‘The defeat went through my head and never left me. I’ve thought long and hard about it and talked with the players. About the why and the wherefore. The final conclusion was that we trained in a fairly relaxed manner and looked on this loss as an isolated incident. It was a total failure of the team, but we have to move on and we are now occupied with Ajax. Whether I blame myself for anything? Yes, always. Perhaps I should not have expressed my feeling that some of the lads were already occupied with Ajax. But if you have a feeling you talk about it.’

Before he turned to Ajax, Gullit wanted to get something off his chest about Romeo Castelen, who was unable to start against Den Bosch due to a muscle strain. ‘I assumed he could play, but a miscommunication meant that was he couldn’t and I only heard that later from the doctor. I’m angry with Castelen about that, because it was the way it went was the most annoying thing.’

Gullit wasn’t giving either team the mantle of favourite, but did proffer a comparison to explain his stand. ‘Ajax are inconsistent, they’ve played one good game and two bad ones. We’ve played eight reasonably well and one bad. You can work out an average from that,’ clarified the Feyenoord coach, who did point to the Amsterdammers’ individual class as they biggest asset.

Feyenoord will be without Pascal Bosschaart and Nicky Hofs due to suspension. Bosschaart will most likely be replaced by Bruno Basto, while Romeo Castelen is expected to take over from Hofs, fitness allowing. Keeper Patrick Lodewijks is not yet fit enough to start, so Gabor Babos will continue in goal.

Feyenoord – Ajax
Sunday 17 April, 12:30 pm at De Kuip
Referee: Temmink

Feyenoord: Babos; Östlund, Saidi, Gibbs, Basto; Castelen, Ono, Ghaly,
Goor;  Kalou, Kuyt.
Ajax: Vonk; Trabelsi, Escudé, Grygera, Maxwell; De Jong, Maduro,
Sneijder;  Pienaar, Babel, Mitea.


11/4/2004 Feyenoord - Ajax 1-1
16/4/2003 Feyenoord - Ajax 1-0 (Amstel Cup)
6/10/2002 Feyenoord - Ajax 1-2
26/8/2001 Feyenoord - Ajax 1-2
10/12/2000 Feyenoord - Ajax 3-1

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
13/5/2001 Ajax - Feyenoord 3-4

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