It’s Willem van Hanegem’s birthday! Today (Wednesday) he celebrates reaching the magnificent age of 75. Management, sup...
Feyenoord travel south to Roosendaal Sunday in the last away fixture before the season’s climax at De Kuip next week. The hosts are RBC Roosendaal, who have enjoyed a comfortable season in mid-table. Interestingly Feyenoord have never won this particular fixture, so coach Van Marwijk will be gunning for a record-breaking three points to confirm a top-three finish for his side. A win would also wash away the nasty taste of last week’s defeat at the hands of FC Groningen.
‘To be honest, I’m still angry,’ admitted the coach Friday. ‘But it was the second time in four years that something like that has happened. I don’t want to waste too many words on it. Fortunately it’s not a structural problem, just a great pity that a good run came to such an end.’
And it was certainly a good run. Feyenoord had the best post-winter break record in the Eredivisie until FC Groningen came a-ram-raiding and it had helped the Rotterdammers come within touching distance of PSV in second place, despite the colossal gap between the two when the league resumed at the end of January. Van Marwijk values that impressive yet ultimately fruitless resurgence highly. ‘If I were to believe the press, for a long time qualification for Europe was to be considered a good achievement. I think that a club like Feyenoord must never finish lower than third and that remains our target.’
Feyenoord need a win to rubberstamp a third-place finish, but RBC Roosendaal is not the easiest place to get it. Indeed, the Rotterdammers have never taken all three points in the league there. That said, Van Marwijk is confident that his charges can pull out the right performance in this town close to the Belgian border.
Patrick Paauwe missed the defeat to FC Groningen with ankle trouble and rejoined training as late as Friday, so his participation is not yet certain, although it is considered likely. A second change may come on the right side, where Ebi Smolarek finds himself under pressure from Danko Lazovic. The Serb has trained with gusto and a couple of top-drawer performances in the reserves in front of Bert van Marwijk has turned the coach’s head. ‘In Serbia and Montenegro he’s played on the right more often. So he’s not unfamiliar with that. The job on the right flank will be different, because Lazovic will often come inside as second striker. I haven’t decided who to play yet. Lazovic is an option in any event.’
Van Marwijk will have eighteen fit players to choose from Sunday. Kees van Wonderen has set his sights on the season’s finale at home to FC Zwolle next week, which will be his last chance to say farewell to his fans as he hangs up his boots at the end of the campaign. The other absentee is Mariano Bombarda.
HOLLAND CASINO EREDIVISIE, SUNDAY 9 MAY 2004
Kick-off: 2.30 pm
Venue: Vast&Goed Stadion, Roosendaal
Probable Feyenoord team
Zoetebier; Song, Van den Berg, Paauwe (Gyan), Mtiliga; Lazovic (Smolarek), Ghaly, Ono, Lurling; Buffel, Kuyt.