Wednesday, February 21, 2007

AZ Manager Louis Van Gaal Expects Close Match

Courtesy of AZ Alkmaar....

ALKMAAR- Both Shota Arveladze and Rogier Molhoek return to the AZ squad for Thursday's UEFA Cup round of 32 second-leg tie at home to Fenerbahçe. Arveladze has recovered from flu, while Molhoek has been deemed fit enough for action. “Fenerbahçe will be stronger than they were last week, but the same goes for AZ. And Fenerbahçe know that we will include Arveladze, our best player, in the starting line-up.”

Van Gaal admitted he was upbeat about Arveladze’s return to full fitness. He told reporters at the pre-match press conference on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of Thursday’s clash with the Turks in the DSB Stadium: “I think Fenerbahçe will be wary of Arveladze, who enjoys a great reputation in Turkiye.”

The pens were scribbling notes furiously, while the interpreter was translating Van Gaal’s statements and the Turkish journalists also zealously jotted down that Van Gaal expects Fenerbahçe to put in a more convincing display than they did last week. “We will meet a different team; Mateja Kezman will make a return to the starting line-up and they will field some new players, but so will we. There is not much difference in strength between the two sides, but Arveladze could be the missing link.”

Van Gaal also briefly refereed to the goals scored by AZ last week. Nourdin Boukhari and Julian Jenner found the net, but unlike some football pundits in Turkey, the AZ coach did not blame the goalkeeper. “Jenner’s effort was like a Bergkamp shot.”

Van Gaal obviously also looked ahead at tomorrow night’s game. “The contest is far from over. When we kick off, the score is 3-3 and Fenerbahçe have some quality players that can turn a game upside down. Just look at what happened last week: they were two goals down, but managed to make amends soon.”

Van Gaal would like to see AZ kill off the game in PSV like fashion. “I was impressed by the way they held on against Arsenal, but having said that I must admit I only saw the last ten minutes of the game. We were having dinner in a restaurant!”

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