‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Feyenoord go into the midweek Amstel Cup clash with AZ as underdogs against a side that led the Eredivisie coming out of the winter break. Yet the Rotterdammers are fully focused on rolling the Alkmaar side over on their own patch to progress in the competition. ‘We have to get a result in Alkmaar and that means getting through to the next round. That’s the goal,’ says a resolute Ruud Gullit, who admits to have a good feeling ahead of the tie.
The home defeat to Vitesse was painful and unnecessary, but the coach feels that it isn’t all doom and gloom. ‘It wasn’t that bad, we just allowed ourselves to be swept along in the quest for the killer, the second goal.
‘We were so fired up to get the second goal that we allowed ourselves to be swept along by it. With hindsight you could say it was naive. I felt we looked good defensively, but we went down through two moments in which two goals were scored. I was satisfied with out debutants; they did well. But it’s not realistic to bring in so many lads at the same time in one week and then play brilliantly. You don’t get that immediately, in preseason you have six weeks for that. We don’t have that time, so we have to get results. I’m aware that it has to happen tomorrow.
‘Everything stands or falls on that; it’s the only thing that will really help us,’ confirmed Gullit. ‘Against AZ we want to go through to the next round. We’ll play very compact. There are now three away matches on the fixture list. That could work to our benefit, considering there is no pressure to dominate the whole game.’
One player who won’t be lining up for Feyenoord in Alkmaar is Pascal Bosschaart. The left back has a lower-leg infection and even Saturday’s Eredivisie match-up with FC Twente may come too soon. In Bosschaart’s stead, Bruno Basto is expected to start only his second game in three months – the other was draw against PSV. An alternative Patrick Mtiliga, but he may drop out of the reckoning with a hip problem.
Elsewhere, in attack Salomon Kalou is not certain to play due to a groin complaint, although Gullit is confident that his young striker will be available. If he isn’t another youngster Danko Lazovic will take his place. But otherwise Gullit is not likely to change his team too much, with only Romeo Castelen seemingly in line for a recall ahead of Edwin de Graaf.
Amstel Cup round of the last sixteen
Wednesday 26 January
Feyenoord: Babos; Östlund, Saidi, Gibbs, Basto; Castelen (De Graaf), Ghaly, Hofs, Goor; Kuyt, Kalou (Lazovic).
AZ: Timmer; Kromkamp, Mathijsen, Opdam, De Cler; Landzaat, Van Galen, Buskermolen; Perez; Meerdink, Huysegems.