It’s Willem van Hanegem’s birthday! Today (Wednesday) he celebrates reaching the magnificent age of 75. Management, sup...
Feyenoord will pit their strength against the Norwegians Odd Grenland for a place in the group stages of the Uefa Cup. That is the outcome of Friday's first round draw. The Rotterdammers travel north for the first encounter 16 September, and will be hoping to bring a good result back to De Kuip, which hosts the second leg 14 days later. It will be the first ever meeting between the clubs.
Odd Grenland play their football in the southern Norwegian town of Skien, where skiing is unsurprisingly top dog. But a two-legged victory against Lithuania's Ekranas has raised the beautiful game's profile once again in the land of the trolls.
'Never heard of them,' admitted captain Patrick Paauwe. 'We will go into those games with one thought and that is to get through to the group stages.
That's the only important thing.'
One Norwegian club that everyone has heard of is Rosenborg. The club made things difficult for Feyenoord a few years back in the Champions League and the Maassiders would do well to keep that in mind. 'A physically strong side full of tall players, that is the image I have of Norwegian football. But with all respect, I don't expect Odd Grenland to be a highflier. I think we will be stronger over two games.'
Danish born Patrick Mtiliga is just as ignorant of Norwegian soccer, despite the country's physical and political proximity to Denmark. 'In Norway they are all big guys, who generally have less technical skill. I expect they'll be hard games.'
Assistant Coach Zeljko Petrovic was satisfied with the draw. 'I'm happy we don't need to go east. I don't know anything about Norwegian football, but it's easier to prepare. We could have got Terek Grozny, a big unknown where the lack of infrastructure makes the trip such a difficult one. We have to approach Odd Grenland with respect, but with the idea that we can get through.'