While it may not be a priority for Feyenoord at the moment, coach Van Marwijk is making no bones about what he wants from his side Wednesday. He would be ‘very disappointed’ with defeat to Ajax in the semifinal of the national knockout competition. ‘We obviously want to beat Ajax and I would be very disappointed if we didn’t manage to. So we’ll attack, but we have to guard against the counters of Ajax.’

Whatever the outcome, Van Marwijk is pleased with the way his men have matured as the season has worn on. ‘But when I look at the progress the team has made it could certainly never be called a lost year,’ the coach assessed. Van Marwijk stressed the breakneck progress realised by his young striking duo Van Persie and Buffel. Back in the league game between the sides in February, the Belgian’s remit was to stop Hatem Trabelsi, but with the interaction between the two achieving new heights Van Marwijk is no longer interested in adapting to an opponent’s style of play. ‘That combination has become a weapon of ours. When we mix things up and switch sides we make the opponent run after us rather than the other way round. But we do have to be vigilant for quick counterattacks. Certainly in Ajax’s case. They usually shut things down and come out very fast. They create space for themselves and we have to be aware of that.’ The recent up and down form of Shinji Ono is less pleasing to Van Marwijk. The Japanese played a blinder in Doetinchem and then had a stinker against Vitesse. ‘I think that all the things that Shinji has experienced these past few years are a little too much for him sometimes,’ says Van Marwijk. ‘He is in a difficult phase. He often appears to overcomplicate things. It should be easier for him now we are performing so well going forward. If I had to pick out one player with a good square or reverse pass it would be Shinji. Obviously he does depend on the movement up front and it was below par against Vitesse. It’s probably a mental thing, although Shinji is a lad who can get back in form all of a sudden. I’d be pleased to see him do it against Ajax.’ Amstel Cup semifinal, Wednesday 16 April 2003 FEYENOORD-AJAX Venue: The Kuip Kickoff: 6 pm Probable teams OPSTELLING FEYENOORD Lodewijks – Emerton, Van Wonderen, De Nooijer, Paauwe – Kalou, Bosvelt, Ono, Van Persie – Buffel, Van Hooijdonk AJAX Lobont – Yakubu (De Jong), Pasanen (Bergdolmo), Chivu, O’Brien – Pienaar (Yakubu), Sneijder, Maxwell, Van der Vaart – Ibrahimovic, Van der Meyde The History 6/10/2002 Feyenoord 1 - 2 Ajax 26/8/2001 Feyenoord 1 - 2 Ajax 10/12/2000 Feyenoord 3 - 1 Ajax 23/4/2000 Feyenoord 1 - 1 Ajax 20/12/1998 Feyenoord 1 - 1 Ajax 9/2/2003 Ajax 1 - 1 Feyenoord 3/3/2002 Ajax 1 - 1 Feyenoord 13/5/2001 Ajax 3 - 4 Feyenoord 10/9/1999 Ajax 2 - 2 Feyenoord 2/5/1999 Ajax 6 - 0 Feyenoord

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