It’s Willem van Hanegem’s birthday! Today (Wednesday) he celebrates reaching the magnificent age of 75. Management, sup...
Feyenoord will be looking to pick up three points against NEC in Sunday’s Eredivisie match to build momentum after Wednesday’s hard-fought Uefa Cup victory. And the Rotterdammers must be confident of doing the business against a side that have succumbed in the last ten meetings between the clubs. Shinji Ono will start for the first time in weeks and that will surely give the Maassiders an extra lift. ‘Against Schalke we saw the Ono we like to see; I hope he does the same against NEC,’ says Ruud Gullit.
Ono’s absence against Groningen and Heerenveen was surely a big reason for the measly one-point return for the Rotterdammers, something Gullit is happy to acknowledge. ‘I really would have liked to have brought him on against Heerenveen to move Ghaly in front of the defence. That would have given us more defensive protection. Happily he’s back now.’
Last week’s absentees, Ono and Saidi, come back into the starting line-up. Saidi did train alone Friday, as did Christian Gyan. ‘I have to protect those lads from themselves sometimes,’ admitted Gullit. ‘Saidi has made the switch from Tunisian to European football. He is suddenly faced with a lot of high-level matches and he’s just finished Ramadan. Sometimes he has to take it a little easier, just like Gyan. I would have wanted Hossam Ghaly to train separately too, but the squad had a quiet session so he could stay.’ The squad has had a couple of relaxed days on the training pitch after what the coach called a ‘war of attrition where miraculously no one got injured’.
Gullit wants to see a three-point return from the fixture, but he also wants to see a marked improvement when defending dead-ball situations. The goal against Schalke midweek was the umpteenth conceded from a corner, and it came just three days after Heerenveen were allowed to net twice from a free kick. ‘We can play, I know that,’ philosophised Gullit. ‘But lack of concentration has cost us so many points. The whole squad is talking about it and I’ve also gone through it with them using videos.’
There are a couple of questions when it comes to personnel. Ono’s return will probably result in the chop for Bosschaart or Ghaly. Gullit could play all three across midfield of course, but he doesn’t appear to be an advocate himself. ‘In preseason we played that way once. It blew hot and cold. It depends how your wingers cope.’
There’s also a question mark against the keeper’s position, with Babos and Lodewijks both in contention.
Holland Casino Eredivisie
FEYENOORD – NEC
Sunday 5 December
Feyenoord: Lodewijks (Babos); Gyan, Saidi, Paauwe, Mtiliga; Castelen, Ono (Ghaly), Bosschaart, Goor; Kuyt, Kalou.
NEC: Gentenaar; Wielaert, Wisgerhof, Pothuizen, Valencia; Van der Doelen, Barreto, Boutahar, Tininho; Denneboom, Niedzielan.
LAST TEN ENCOUNTERS
17/8/2003 Feyenoord - NEC 2-1
18/8/2002 Feyenoord - NEC 2-0
9/12/2001 Feyenoord - NEC 5-0
21/4/2001 Feyenoord - NEC 3-0
24/10/1999 Feyenoord - NEC 2-1
28/1/2004 NEC - Feyenoord 1-2
16/3/2003 NEC - Feyenoord 1-2
8/9/2001 NEC - Feyenoord 0-3
19/11/2000 NEC - Feyenoord 1-3
7/5/2000 NEC - Feyenoord 0-2