Feyenoord’s match at AZ ended 1-1, a result Giovanni van Bronckhorst was fairly happy with. ‘The game could have gone e...
Coach Ruud Gullit was able to change the course of the match when he introduced Shinji Ono after a half-hour against Schalke 04 Wednesday. The Japanese showed himself to be up to the challenge, playing an important role in the ultimate victory. Indeed, even Gullit’s expectations were exceeded. ‘It surprised me how Ono came on as a sub. Maybe the rest did him good and he was spurred on by starting on the bench.’
After two matches on the sidelines Ono’s inclusion among the subs was fairly logical. The midfielder had racked up just two days’ training with the squad ahead of the fixture, after all. ‘He couldn’t sit on the bench against Heerenveen, so I didn’t feel he could start three days later,’ explained Gullit. But when the coach saw the difficulty his team were having getting a grip on the game he felt the need to intervene. ‘I wanted to turn the match our way. An extra man in midfield gave us the upper hand.’
One thing that did not surprise Gullit was Feyenoord’s qualification for the next round of the competition. ‘I know the squad has the requisite qualities. We have thrown it away in recent games in the details. But I cannot expect everything to go without a hitch straight away, there are ups and downs. And we have been seeing that in recent weeks. Sometimes you have to take one step back to go two steps forward. Today the team settled scores by winning a battle like this one.’
Gullit did think that his side should have wrapped up the points a lot earlier than it did. ‘Kuyt had a chance for 3-1 before the break and we had another three counters after the break. If we had scored from them we wouldn’t have experienced such an exhilarating last fifteen minutes.’ In the end though, the coach was satisfied with the performance of his men. He even singled out two players in particular for praise. ‘It’s unbelievable how hard Goor worked, fantastic. But Ghaly also worked extremely hard. I’m pleased with that.’