Feyenoord won the first friendly of 2004, defeating Belgian champions Club Bruges in a hastily arranged lowlands derby by two goals to one on the Turkish coast. Goalscorers were Smolarek and Pardo. The game also marked the return of striker Danko Lazovic, who played the last fifteen minutes after six weeks on the sidelines. Another returnee was Chong-Gug Song, who played the whole ninety minutes, making a fine case for a permanent return to the starting eleven.

Bert van Marwijk called the victory ‘a useful win. I think my team stood up well to this test against a physically tough team like Club Bruges. Today we combined positional play and effectiveness well. But perhaps even more importantly, I felt the team exuded resolve,’ said Van Marwijk. ‘I told my squad on 5 January that I wanted to see a more mature Feyenoord. I also said that the players have to be tougher, on themselves and on each other. We have a good squad, but some of the lads are too nice at times. That has to change. Today the team showed that the message has got through.’ Feyenoord started the game out of sorts and found themselves a goal down within 120 seconds when Sæternes netted, but got back into their stride soon after. ‘In the opening period we did let ourselves be bullied,’ admitted Van Marwijk. ‘And we were too anxious up front. Smolarek and especially Van Persie were looking for the difficult solution too often in the first few minutes. When we kept things simple things became a lot easier immediately. That was after around ten minutes. From then on in we dominated the match.’ Smolarek turned this ascendancy into viable soccer currency, bringing Feyenoord back on level terms before the break. Feyenoord put together their best football in the second half and Sebastian Pardo grabbed the Rotterdammers’ second goal nine minutes in. Ono was close to extending the lead, but saw his effort come back off the post. Save those opening minutes, the Feyenoord defence had the Bruges forward line under control, especially in the second forty-five. It was a sight for sore eyes for Van Marwijk, who was especially enthused with the performance of Chong-Gug Song, who returned to form after several months of below-par displays. ‘He is slowly but slowly getting back to his old self,’ said the coach. Vam Marwijk was just as happy with Song’s partner at the rear Ramon van Haaren. ‘Ramon has played yet another perfect match, showing again that he is able to find the man in space. If Song maintains this form and Ramon just keeps fit that will be one big problem solved right there.’ Feyenoord may or may not end up playing again before returning to Rotterdam. The weather has made a mockery of the calendar and Feyenoord’s next scheduled opponent Besiktas haven’t even left Lara as heavy rain and harsh winds lash the south of Turkey, so that particular game is up in the air. As manager Hans Hagelstein admits, ‘We are at the mercy of the weather, so we are looking at the situation from day to day.’ Feyenoord - Club Brugge 2-1 (1-1) 2' Sæternes 0-1, 37' Smolarek 1-1, 55' Pardo 2-1. Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Song, Van Wonderen, Paauwe, Van Haaren; Kuyt (75' Lazovic), Pardo, Ono (80' Ghaly), Smolarek; Van Persie, Buffel.

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