‘Even Klopp expressed admiration’

‘Even Klopp expressed admiration’

NOS Football

For the first time in 42 years AZ can qualify for a European final tomorrow. Coach Pascal Jansen’s team needs to polish off the 2-1 away defeat against West Ham United in the Conference League in Alkmaar.

Despite the small deficit, Jansen is living towards the return at home with confidence. “I certainly realize that this is very special. We have all the conviction and belief that we are going to make it.”

That belief is strengthened by the fact that AZ can again have left back Milos Kerkez, midfielder Dani de Wit and winger Jesper Karlsson. The trio was missing in London last week. It is expected that Kerkez and Karlsson will start in the starting lineup, Jansen will have to choose between De Wit and Sven Mijnans for the number 10 position.

“The three players returning are important guys. They make us stronger,” Jansen said. “But the hallmark of AZ is that we always do it together.”

Together, AZ will have to attack better tomorrow than it did last week. And the Premier League club’s dreaded game-winning corners will have to be better defended. In London, West Ham scored from a penalty and a corner.


Jansen: “West Ham is just very strong in game recovers. Even Liverpool manager Klopp expressed his admiration for how West Ham plays out their game recovers, which says something.”

AZ goalkeeper Ryan and several defenders have to watch West Ham score from a corner kick in the away game

AZ has less length and headroom than the English. So how do you prevent them from scoring again from a game winner? Jansen: “Every player has to focus on his tasks and responsibilities. And then you have to prevent a goal with everything you have in you. With that second goal in London, that should have been done better.”

If they manage to neutralize the game’s replays, AZ could just make it to the Conference League final, as Feyenoord did a year ago. “When this league was created, it was still somewhat denigrated. But last year we were able to see that it is a big, full-fledged league,” Jansen said.

“Feyenoord was in the final last year and we are on the edge now. If you can reach a European final, that’s a very special achievement. We are going to give it our all tomorrow, with everything we have in us.”

Kayleigh Williams