THIRD VERSUS FOURTH AT DE KUIP

Feyenoord are gunning for a win in Wednesday’s home Eredivisie encounter against AZ to keep up the pressure on second-placed PSV. But with their opponents only one rung behind them on the league ladder, it’s no easy ask for the Rotterdammers, who failed to breach Vitesse’s defence Sunday. A freescoring Feyenoord would of course help Bert van Marwijk achieve his last objective as club coach. ‘Our challenge is to stay in the race for second place.’

Ramon van Haaren’s personal record of seven games in a row in the Feyenoord first team will most likely come to an end against AZ, as the left back continues to suffer from a thigh strain. ‘Ramon is a question mark,’ says coach Van Marwijk. ’At the moment he’s in too much pain. But he is much fitter than he was yesterday. If Ramon is able to make the same progress going into tomorrow, he has a chance. Fortunately nothing is torn. But if he were to pick up another knock tomorrow he could be out for a couple of weeks.’ That analysis would suggest that Van Haaren will sit out the match. Feyenoord are hoping to grab some goals against AZ, after shooting blanks at Vitesse last Sunday despite generating a shed-load of chances. ‘But it must not become an obsession. It’s logical that it’s being talked about, but we shouldn’t think about it too much. We just have to get the ball in the goal. I’ve already given my players the example of Italy. There, strikers grow up with the idea that there will be one chance and then the ball has to go in. We have to acquire that mindset too.’ AZ have no problems themselves in front of goal this campaign, which leads Van Marwijk to expect a tough match. ‘They don’t have a lot to lose. I don’t think that Co [Adriaanse] will change much compared with last weekend. Their main strengths are up front. But the same basically goes for us.’ HOLLAND CASINO EREDIVISIE, WEDNESDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2004 FEYENOORD-AZ Kick-off: 8 pm Venue: De Kuip Feyenoord Lodewijks; Swerts, Van Wonderen, Paauwe, Song; Smolarek, Pardo, Schreuder, Van Persie; Buffel, Kuyt AZ Timmer; Kromkamp, Reini, Opdam, De Cler; Landzaat, Elkhattabi, Buskermolen, Van Galen; Perez, Huysegems
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