‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
The disappointment of a point at Heereveen when it should have been three led to censure in the press, but Ruud Gullit feels his team is ready to show its mental strength when Schalke ’04 come to town Wednesday. Confidence is high, says the coach. ‘I hate that we gave away two points naively. But truth be told, we played well. We can gain confidence from the strong periods in the match.’ A win will put Feyenoord through to the next round.
Schalke 04 are all ready through after last week’s win against Ferencvaros, but coach Ralf Rangnick told the press Tuesday that he wasn’t going to Rotterdam just to see the port. That all points to an enjoyable European evening at De Kuip.
Gullit welcomes back Karim Saidi and Shijin Ono for the match, although the Japanese is not fit enough for a full ninety minutes and will start on the bench. But it’s all relative, because injuries to Chong-Gug Song (calf) and Glenn Loovens (stomach bug) mean that neither are available for selection. That has led Gullit to include teenager Wouter Artz in his first draft.
As a result the starting eleven is not set to change too much. Saidi will take over from Loovens in the middle of defence, but under pressure fullbacks Mtiliga and Gyan will be given a chance to change a few minds. ‘Patrick now has preference over Bruno Basto,’ confirmed Gullit. ‘That’s bad luck for Basto, but I don’t drop players who are doing well. I often feel that Gyan is a model for other players. He will never let you down and always plays to his potential. I’m satisfied with that.’
Gullit is not likely to make any changes in midfield. The only question mark comes in attack, where Dirk Kuyt’s striking partner could be Buffel or Kalou. Both are fit and Kalou has had the edge most of the season, but Buffel’s goal at Heereveen may have kept him in the team for the encounter against the Germans.
Uefa Cup Group A
FEYENOORD – SCHALKE 04
Wednesday 1 December
Lodewijks (Babos); Gyan, Saidi, Paauwe, Mtiliga; Castelen, Ghaly, Bosschaart, Goor; Kuyt, Buffel (Kalou).