It’s Willem van Hanegem’s birthday! Today (Wednesday) he celebrates reaching the magnificent age of 75. Management, sup...
At the pre-match press call on the eve of a vital encounter for the Maassiders Ruud Gullit took the opportunity to affirm that he has never underestimated an opponent. An intelligent philosophy, considering Feyenoord take a slender single goal lead into Thursday’s Uefa Cup first round, second leg tie against Odd Grenland. He’ll be demanding a repeat of Saturday’s professional performance at RBC to ensure Feyenoord progress to the league stages of the competition. ‘The result has priority tomorrow,’ confirmed Gullit.
Gullit could afford a smile Wednesday afternoon with the news that his first-choice eleven was available for selection. Feyenoord’s midfield woes have all but evaporated with the return of mainstay Ono, who has shaken off the ankle complaint that kept him out of Sunday’s win in Roosendaal.
‘That is important, because Shinji brings more balance to the team,’ admitted the coach. His absence was a cause for concern against RBC, as Hossam Ghaly was also unavailable in the league due to suspension. Now the Egyptian is also back in the reckoning, as his ban doesn’t extend to European competitions. That said, with Pascal Bosschaart racking up some top performances in recent weeks, Ghaly is likely to get more sitting practice on the bench Thursday.
Thomas Buffel came into the starting line-up against RBC due to the absence of Ono and Ghaly at the weekend, but he’ll revert to the bench against the Norwegians. Gullit wants to play his strongest eleven to avoid the unimaginable, after a disappointing display with an alternative formation in the first leg. ‘I gave a few of the guys a chance, which didn’t really go too well. We didn’t play well, but we won. The result is more important than anything else.’
Gullit also pointed up the progress of Gianni Zuiverloon, the 17-year-old right back who played his second competitive fixture for Feyenoord against RBC, coming on for Song late in the second half. ‘If you get the chance to bring a player on from the youths you should take it,’ posited the coach. ‘We’re doing that with Gianni too. But we’re being careful about it, because he’s still at school and has to finish that first before he can make the definite switch to the first team. But he can gain experience with those substitution experiences.’
Uefa Cup, first round second leg
Feyenoord - Odd Grenland
Date: 30 September
Time: 8.30 pm
Place: De Kuip
Referee: Andrew Paul D'Urso (Eng)
Likely Feyenoord line-up:
Babos; Song, Saidi, Paauwe, Basto; Castelen, Ono, Bosschaart, Goor; Kuyt and Kalou.