Feyenoord Out to Rekindle Former Glories in Europe i

Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst. (Photo courtesy of Twitter/Feyenoord)

By : Mark Gleeson | on 3:08 PM September 11, 2017
Category : Sports, Football

Rotterdam. Feyenoord, fresh from winning a first Dutch title in almost two decades in May, is now raring to rekindle former European glories when it competes in the Champions League group stages for the first time in 15 years on Wednesday (13/09).

Yet the Rotterdam side, European champion back in 1970, is re-entering a very much more challenging continental arena than when it found itself in the last 32 of Europe's premier club tournament back in the 2002-03 season.

"It's a big challenge for Dutch clubs to be competitive against so many strong teams," said coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst as Feyenoord prepared for a fierce new examination at home to English powerhouse Manchester City.

"With so much quality from the strongest footballing countries, we have a chance now to measure ourselves and that is a very real challenge for me and the team," he told Dutch television.

"It will be difficult but it's a good challenge and we will learn from it and we'll become better."

Feyenoord was the first Dutch European champion and twice won the UEFA Cup but despite its proud European record, the club has had to to take a back seat in recent years to its domestic "big three" rivals, Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven.

Yet the club is buoyed by its new assault on the European Cup even if it is in a tough group with City, Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk.

"It doesn't matter how difficult it gets, the experience that the players pick up against top European clubs will be invaluable," said van Bronckhorst, who won the Champions League as a defender with Barcelona in 2006.

"It's a great group. We'll have to do a lot of work and a lot of hoping to get through."

Key for Feyenoord will be the club's aging De Kuip, the stadium where it enjoys the fanatical support and which it turned into a fortress last season.

Its home dominance proved the foundation of its first Dutch title since 1999 as it dropped only four points, winning 15 of its 17 home matches.

Yet glorious European nights have become all too rare. Its last Champions League home match was in November 2002, when Craig Bellamy scored a stoppage time winner to give Newcastle United a 3-2 triumph.

Yet the coach feels the fans could again make all the difference. "They can often carry the team, like a 12th player," van Bronckhorst said.

Reuters

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