AZ hopes to give the Portuguese Gil Vicente the final blow in the return, fully equipped. On Tuesday afternoon, the rather late request from the Alkmaarders not to play in the Eredivisie against NEC next weekend was honored by the KNVB.

    The first leg in the Conference League play-offs in Alkmaar is scheduled for Thursday evening. The fact that AZ can take on so well-rested is a big advantage, according to AZ trainer Pascal Jansen. Gil Vicente came into action last Monday evening while the club also completes a league match in between.

    ,,Gil Vicente plays a lot in a short time. A number of arguments have gone back and forth with us internally and we have submitted the request after all. It is nice that the KNVB wanted to cooperate because I think it is important for Dutch football that we qualify for the main tournament of the Conference League.”

    Summer acquisitions

    There is therefore a chance that Jansen will have injured players at his disposal for that return. The summer signings Riechedly Bazoer and Jens Odgaard may be fit, while Zinho Vanheusden, who has not yet played at all, is also on the right track. Yukinari Sugawara already was.

    Jansen finds it difficult to indicate the strength of Gil Vicente at the press moment on the eve of the play-off game. ,,It is a club that did very well last season in a competition that is tough. Now they have sold one of their best players. It will be an interesting showdown for us.”

    Jansen calls Gil Vicente typically Portuguese. “They have skilled players and can combine short.”

    That Dutch clubs often lose to Portuguese, says Jansen and also midfielder in form Tijjani Reijnders not so much. “We have to rely on our own strength and make sure that they don’t even have the opportunity to waste time. If we get that right, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”

    AZ started the season well last week with six points from two games and a seven against Dundee United. “We are doing good business and are currently in a flow,” says Reijnders. Jansen: ,,For now, we are on schedule. We always want to strive for the dominance that we showed against Dundee United last week, but we gave away an opportunity in that game too.”