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Giovanni van Bronckhorst feels Feyenoord go into Wednesday’s Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk with morale high despite the disappointing results of recent weeks. The head coach was speaking on Tuesday evening at a press conference shortly after the Feyenoord party arrived in Kharkov.
The plane touched down on Ukrainian soil around 16:30 local time after a three-hour flight. With the temperature close to freezing point, most of the travellers made straight for the hotel. However, Van Bronckhorst and Brad Jones made a detour to the Metalist Stadium, which will host the match on Wednesday evening. After a brief inspection of the dressing room they talked about the coming challenge against Shakhtar Donetsk in a press conference in front of a few dozen journalists.
Jones: ‘Show what we can do’
The first questions were for Jones, who acknowledged that after three matches Feyenoord knew exactly high the standard was in Champions League Group F. ‘In this tournament, we’re playing against the world’s best teams, with astronomical budgets, especially compared to Feyenoord,’ said the 35-year-old keeper. ‘We’ve now experienced how good all teams are and now, as individuals and as a team, we have to show what we can do at this level.’
Jones is sure he has a big part to play in that, after the less good results of recent weeks. ‘As an older player, I try to use my experience to help the young lads. As a team, we have to work hard to come out of this strongly. Tomorrow is the next opportunity to do that.’
Van Bronckhorst: ‘Continue to work hard’
After answering the journalists’ questions the keeper did not go out to train with the squad as has happened on previous European trips. Van Bronckhorst explained why his squad preferred to train in Rotterdam before jetting out east. ‘The flight to Ukraine is a fairly long one. That’s why we thought it wiser to train in the Netherlands first, which gives you a little more of a rest ahead of the match. The players suggested it themselves, they prefer to train in the Netherlands first, where you can train more privately too.’
Van Bronckhorst was asked about Feyenoord’s morale, particularly after the defeats to Shakhtar Donetsk and Ajax. ‘The morale is still good,’ answered the head coach. ‘Obviously, if you lose twice and then draw against Roda JC it hits your confidence. The lads put their all into the match on Saturday, but the second goal just wouldn’t go in. That was disappointing for all of us, but we have to continue to work hard and create chances.’
After three match days in Group F Feyenoord are still looking for their first Champions League point, which means qualifying for the next round or finish third and go into the Europa League will be an uphill struggle. ‘If you want to survive through the winter, you have to get a result tomorrow. Otherwise it’ll be tough,’ admitted Van Bronckhorst. ‘I am always confident, so also ahead of this match. Playing against a club like Shakhtar is ultimately a great challenge, so we are certainly taking this match seriously. It would be inconceivable for me if you were not to take the matches at this level seriously. A good performance can also lead to a turnaround before you know it.’