‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Ruud Gullit knows that a feeling of invincibility on the back of seven straight Eredivisie wins, and 31 goals in the process can give his team a real edge when they meet NAC Breda in the league Sunday lunchtime. It’s not just about playing well either, explained Gullit. ‘But also that the opponent never knows who’s going to score for us. We have five and sometimes six players who can score a goal for us. That is very difficult to play against.’
Two days before the meet in Breda Gullit compared on the period that preceded the winter break, when Feyenoord lost their way, and the performances of recent weeks. Despite a glut of goals latterly, the difference between the two is the defence, says the coach. ‘It’s not always about how many you score, but how many you concede. We noticed that before the winter break with corners and free kicks. With Gibbs and Östlund we are doing better at defending. I am enormously satisfied with Östlund, because no one gets past him. Cory is also very important to the team, especially his winner’s mentality and coaching. He often coaches before certain things happen. Before the winter break there was often a lot of consequential coaching; that’s no use to you. Cory has given us an extra stimulus.’
Gullit admits that everything went right against AZ. Not just because of Gibbs and Östlund either – Pascal Bosschaart, Hossam Ghaly and Gábor Babos also put their best foot forward. ‘I’m now opting for Bosschaart ahead of Basto. Pascal has to get his chance. He was a little unsure against AZ but in the second half he did a lot better. Gábor really did turn it around. He told me that afterwards too. He was able to show more courage and kept goal differently. He controlled the penalty area again, something you expect and desire from a keeper of his height. Lodewijks cannot play on Sunday. I have already decided who will keep goal if they are both fit. But I’ll be telling them that first. I don’t intend for them to read it in the paper.’
The team that saw off AZ is likely to be given the chance to do it all again against NAC. Babos retains his place due to Lodewijks’s injury, while Bosschaart and Ghaly get the nod over Basto and Hofs, although Hofs may be ruled out with an ankle injury anyway, after limping out of training Thursday.
HOLLAND CASINO EREDIVISIE
NAC – Feyenoord
Sunday 10 April, 12:30 at the Mycom Stadion
Referee: Vervecken (Bel)
Schollen; Collen, Colin, Penders, Gudelj (Kerstens); Mendes da Silva, Slot, Petö; Lurling, Boussaboun, Rigters (Diba)
Babos; Östlund, Saidi, Gibbs, Bosschaart; Castelen, Ono, Ghaly, Goor; Kalou, Kuyt.
LAST TEN MEETINGS
4/4/2004 NAC Breda - Feyenoord 0-3
22/12/2002 NAC Breda - Feyenoord 1-1
4/11/2001 NAC Breda - Feyenoord 2-1
8/4/2001 NAC Breda - Feyenoord 1-0
3/3/2005 Feyenoord - NAC Breda 4-0 (Amstel Cup)
7/11/2004 Feyenoord - NAC Breda 4-0
31/8/2003 Feyenoord - NAC Breda 2-1
2/3/2003 Feyenoord - NAC Breda 2-1
7/4/2002 Feyenoord - NAC Breda 0-0
28/1/2001 Feyenoord - NAC Breda 2-0