Feyenoord go to RKC looking for a seventh successive Eredivisie win in Saturday evening’s league meet in Waalwijk. The Rotterdammers may have knocked in 27 goals in picking up the last 18 points, but most attention at the Friday De Kuip press call went on one of the club’s players who hasn’t managed to finish more than one game all year. Yet when talk did finally get round to the match, Gullit couldn’t hide a broad smile. ‘Because I have no personnel problems; that’s great for once.’

There was much discussion about Romeo Castelen and Shinji Ono at the Friday press conference. Castelen failed to make Marco van Basten’s Dutch squad for the first time and Van Basten’s ex-team-mate Gullit was take aback somewhat. ‘Romeo is doing better and better for us. So I’m a little surprised, but there will be reasons. Marco can obviously have other ideas, I accept that. But in any event I’m happy with Romeo’s development. The only plus is that at least one international is staying at home. It’s always questionable whether they will come back fit. It’s important because there are tough weeks round the corner, starting with the match against AZ.’

The Feyenoord coach had more to say on another international. Shinji Ono has been selected by the Japanese for the country’s World Cup qualifiers against Iran and Bahrain at the end of the month. That’s something the Gullit doesn’t feel too good about. ‘We’ve drawn up a phased programme for Shinji to get him to optimal fitness. If he’s selected now that plan will be abruptly interrupted and everything will have been for nothing. I hope the Japanese FA realises that it’s important for Shinji’s career and health that he isn’t called up. He isn’t fully fit yet and is still in his phased programme. Playing forty minutes first, then fifty, sixty etc until he’s completely fit. During the minutes that he played there was no physical discomfort and he had a high return. He feels that he is playing better. That’s why it’s not good for him to make long journeys again. The phased programme that we have invested a lot of time and energy in will have been for nothing then. That isn’t so much in the interest of Feyenoord, but mainly of Shinji himself. I want him to play football for many more years. So I hope the FA responds to our appeal in the interests of Shinji.’

Gullit didn’t say a great deal about the match at RKC. There was really little to say in fact, because he’ll have a near full squad to choose from. Only Patrick Mtiliga (knee) and Christian Gyan (groin) are sidelined. Given the straightforward victory over Roda JC the coach will have little need to tinker with his starting eleven. André Bahia is likely to lose his place to Karim Saidi, who returns from injury, but that should be the only change. But with only one win in the last five visits to Waalwijk, Feyenoord will be wary of taking the opposition lightly.

RKC Waalwijk–Feyenoord
Saturday 19 March, 19:30 at the Mandemakers Stadium
Referee: Van Egmond

Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Östlund, Saidi, Gibbs, Basto; Castelen, Ono, Hofs, Goor; Kuyt, Kalou.
RKC Waalwijk: Sinouh; Van Diemen, Vermaelen (Klompe), Greene, Van Hintum; Krohn-Dehli (Molhoek), Schreuder, Fuchs; Vasconcelos, Hoogendorp, Martens (Putter).


21/12/2003 RKC – Feyenoord 0-0
23/11/2002 RKC – Feyenoord 1-0
28/11/2001 RKC – Feyenoord 2-3
1/4/2001 RKC - Feyenoord 2-0
2/4/2000 RKC - Feyenoord 2-2

24/10/2004 Feyenoord – RKC 4-0
21/3/2004 Feyenoord - RKC 1-0
11/5/2003 Feyenoord - RKC 2-1
31/3/2002 Feyenoord - RKC 1-1
9/9/2000 Feyenoord - RKC 3-1

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