Arne Slot is not planning to change keeper for the time being. Because Justin Bijlow is out of circulation with a foot injury, Ofir Marciano is currently under the bar at Feyenoord. With Valentin Cojocaru – temporarily taken over from the Ukrainian SK Dnipro-1 – a new keeper has been added in recent weeks, but Slot is currently not planning to place the Romanian in the starting eleven.
“He is a good goalkeeper,” Slot says at the press conference in the run-up to the first leg in the quarterfinals of the Conference League against Slavia Prague, which is scheduled for Thursday evening in De Kuip. “But you are not going to change the keeper based on the opponent. Ofir is our first choice at the moment and he will remain so for the time being, but I am very happy to see Valentin leave a good impression. So should anything happen to Ofir, we have an experienced keeper on hand. For the goalkeeper position you don’t look at freshness, the opponent or tactics. No, there is certainty in that and then Ofir is the first choice for the time being.”
A position that Slot is a lot less certain about is the striker. Cyriel Dessers was present at the press conference on Wednesday, but according to Slot that does not mean that he will also have a basic place against Slavia Prague. In recent weeks, the Belgian was preferred to Bryan Linssen in the point of the attack. “The good news is that we have two strikers who perform in such a way that this discussion is constantly going on. That’s very nice. Not only for me, but also for Feyenoord.”
“When you add up the number of goals they’ve scored together, it’s impressive. In addition, I think it is very important to mention how they deal with it themselves. Until now, disappointment never got the better of us,” Slot continues. The Feyenoord trainer believes that Dessers and Linssen are ‘very close to each other’. “We are now entering the decisive phase of the season. Then I often choose based on opponent, fitness, form and my own feeling.”
Slot cannot appeal to Justin Bijlow, Lutsharel Geertruida and Philippe Sandler on Thursday. The latter has now trained again and is therefore on his way back. Jens Toornstra is back against the Czechs, against whom Feyenoord did not lose in the group stage (2-1 in Rotterdam, 2-2 in Prague). Slavia Prague has the necessary personnel problems in the run-up to the reunion with Feyenoord, as trainer Jindrich Trpisovsky does not have a real left back at his disposal due to the absence of Srdjan Plavsic, Oscar Dorley and Jan Boril and probably has to post left winger Peter Olayinka in the defense. Aiham Ousou, Lukas Masopust and Petr Sevcik are also absent.
“The tension is great. I am really looking forward to it. Hopefully we will play another great match in a great atmosphere”, Slot looks ahead. “For me it’s special because it’s my first as a trainer. And for the players too. For the supporters and the club because it has been twenty years. Then you expect a magical atmosphere. We also need that, because in Prague the public is also fully behind the team.”