The first subject for discussion at the pre-match press call was not about FC Kärnten however, but Robin van Persie. The youngster has been critical of the club’s handling of his contract negotiations in a national Dutch newspaper and the story has snowballed from there, but the coach wasted few words on the matter. ‘I’m used to it. It happens so often. It seems to be an integral part of it all. It hasn’t disrupted us too much. I didn’t hear any of the players talking about it today in any event. Whether Robin will be finding it difficult to concentrate on the game? I wouldn’t imagine so. I assume he isn’t affected, because he would have talked with me about it otherwise.’
Van Marwijk was unhappy with the absence of Sebastián Pardo, who was unable to get back to Europe in time for the game after helping Chile Under-21s to a 3-1 win over Paraguay. ‘The lad cannot help it himself that he didn’t make it back in time, but that doesn’t mean that the situation hasn’t bothered me. It’s really crazy that this sort of thing can go on at this level. For me in any case, it’s the umpteenth confirmation that UEFA and FIFA have to come to the table to harmonise their international calendars.’
When the subject did eventually get round to the little matter of the UEFA Cup, Van Marwijk showed himself to be cautiously optimistic. ‘As a rule we would expect to get through to the next round, but I don’t want to be too laid back about the game. These people are playing the most important game in their 83-year history. So they are extremely motivated. A team like that can conjure up an unanticipated potency. I’ve warned my team, although I still think that we have to play our own game.’ Kärnten’s lousy performances in the Austrian Bundesliga are not really relevant in Van Marwijk’s eyes. ‘What they do in Austria is unimportant. The fact is that they played well in Rotterdam. They will draw strength from that’.
UEFA Cup first round, second leg
FC KÄRNTEN – FEYENOORD
Kick-off: 8.30 pm
Probable Feyenoord side: Zoetebier; Swerts, Van den Berg, Paauwe, De Nooijer; Van Wonderen (Acuña), Schreuder, Ono, Van Persie; Buffel, Kuyt