‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Feyenoord’s robust series continues Sunday with a match against third-placed AZ in Alkmaar. Since being shown the door by Ajax, AZ coach Cor Adriaanse has build up a strong side that has made it to the group stages of the Uefa Cup this season and looks like giving Holland’s top clubs a run for their money in the league this campaign. Ruud Gullit for one is looking forward to it, and to the games against Ferencvaros, NAC and Ajax to come.
Feyenoord eased past RKC despite showing obvious signs of fatigue and coach Gullit spoke about the match in terms of a great leap forward. After all, his players had shown that they could play with their heads when their bodies were showing signs of tiredness.
Those heads will have to be concentrated against AZ. ‘It is an important match for us, just like the away match at Roda was. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m not just talking about one match. Because we are playing in Hungary on Thursday against Ferencvaros and Sunday against NAC. These are great weeks.’
Gullit will probably have a full squad to choose from in Alkmaar. Both Shinji Ono and Karim Saidi were forced to leave training early Friday, but that was just a precautionary measure. The Japanese got a kick on the knee Thursday and was still a little painful 24 hours later, but he trained as usual Saturday and has given himself the green light.
Saidi didn’t train with the ball Saturday – he has a groin strain – but was given a run out by condition trainer Toine van de Goolberg and looked to be in good shape and should be available against AZ.
The interesting positions Sunday will be the full backs. Patrick Mtiliga played on the left against RKC and did well, but he is expected to step down to allow Bruno Basto to return after the Portuguese was rested in the same game. On the right Chong-Gug Song has responded positively to Ruud Gullit’s critical words, according to the coach himself. Gianni Zuiverloon has replaced the Korean in the last two games, but Song looks like a good bet to regain his place in Alkmaar, as Gullit knows he has to nurture Zuiverloon, who is finishing his studies this year and so is not available on a full-time basis. ‘I have to protect him and not ask too much of him. The agreements we have with him have not changed.’
Holland Casino Eredivise
AZ - FEYENOORD
Date: Sunday 31 October
Time: 12:30 PM
Place: Alkmaarderhout, Alkmaar
Referee: Van Egmond
Feyenoord: Babos; Song (Zuiverloon), Saidi, Paauwe, Basto; Castelen, Ono, Bosschaart, Goor; Kuyt. Kalou.
AZ: Timmer; Kromkamp, Mathijsen, Opdam, De Cler; Landzaat, Van Galen, Buskermolen; Perez; Huysegems, Elkhattabi
LAST TEN MEETINGS
14/9/2003 AZ-Feyenoord 2-2
15/2/2003 AZ-Feyenoord 1-4
20/10/2001 AZ-Feyenoord 1-3
4/2/2001 AZ-Feyenoord 0-3
3/10/1999 AZ-Feyenoord 0-0
11/2/2004 Feyenoord-AZ 0-3
15/12/2002 Feyenoord-AZ 6-1
10/3/2002 Feyenoord-AZ 4-1
19/8/2000 Feyenoord-AZ 2-0
30/4/2000 Feyenoord-AZ 5-3