Cambuur and De Graafschap are ‘the game that is hunted’

SC Cambuur and De Graafschap are in the new season of the first division, which will be kicked off tonight, again “the game that will be hunted“, trainers Henk de Jong (SC Cambuur) and Mike Snoei (De Graafschap) expect,

The duo, however, sees several clubs that could pose a threat to the two title candidates. “Everyone wants to win from us,” says Snoei.

Feared opponent

“NAC Breda is obliged to participate at the top of its stand. NEC will join, but also that ambitious Almere City with the same player budget as De Graafschap. And don’t forget Volendam…”

Cambuur and De Graafschap were the topic of conversation in May when the KNVB decided to keep the two clubs in the first division, after the league was prematurely terminated due to the coronavirus. RKC Waalwijk, striker in the premier league, and number seventeen ADO Den Haag, were allowed to continue playing football at the highest level for another year.

“The whole of the Netherlands started to feel a bit sorry for De Graafschap and Cambuur”, remarked Snoei. Cambuur was the frontrunner at the time and De Graafschap number two, a long way from the competition. The clubs still wanted to force promotion to the premier league through the courts, but they did not go along with that.

No regrets

De Jong spoke of the biggest disgrace in Dutch sport at the time. “I still fully support what I said back then”, he looks back on that period. “But after the judge’s verdict I was done with it. Then you have to step over it.”

The Cambuur trainer says he used the missed promotion in preparation to motivate his players. “We’re now trying to turn it into a piece of revenge. That’s what I said to the players.”

Look below at the interview of Henk de Jong from April when the KNVB decided not to promote and relegate:

According to Snoei, it took a long time before everyone could accept the KNVB’s decision. “Last week referee Rob Dieperink came by to explain some rules of the game. Ralf Seuntjens then saw the orange KNVB logo and it worked like a red rag. He is one of the guys who had a lot of trouble with the KNVB’s decision. So I don’t have to motivate Seuntjens.”

Comeback Barreto

Besides Cambuur and De Graafschap, the eyes are on the comeback of Edgar Barreto at NEC. The 36-year-old Paraguayan returned to Nijmegen after thirteen years in Italy and 264 Series A-duels, where he caused a furore in the premier league between 2004 and 2007 and became a crowd pleaser.

It is no coincidence that Barreto wants to wear out his after days as a professional footballer in the Netherlands. “After leaving for Italy I have been in the Netherlands three or four times a year”, the 61-time international told De Gelderlander.

“Always at Christmas. But even if I had two or three days off, I would come with my family. I was in Paraguay for the last time in 2012. Nijmegen is home for us.”

Besides Barreto, NEC also ensured itself of another experienced force: Rangelo Janga. The 28-year-old attacker will be hired from Astana for one season

Serious threat

At FC Volendam, which last season finished in third place behind Cambuur and De Graafschap, they once again want to pose a serious threat to the two title favourites.

That must be done with Francesco Antonucci, among others, in the ranks. The 21-year-old Belgian made a good impression at De Dijk last season (eleven goals and five assists) and thus sparked the interest of various clubs. Feyenoord were agile and captured him, but immediately stole the midfielder for another season at Volendam.

The predominantly young Almere City selection – in the eyes of De Jong and Snoei an outsider in the first division – hopes this season to lean on the routine of 35-year-old Ryan Koolwijk, who was under contract with the Slovakian Trencรญn last season.