The quarterfinals of the Conference League are almost upon us. In Alkmaar and the surrounding area, everyone is eagerly awaiting the confrontation between AZ and Anderlecht in Belgium. John van den Brom does the same with extra interest. The trainer has a past at both clubs. “AZ is more of a whole and has better individual players.”
With his current Polish club Lech Poznan, Van den Brom also belongs to the last eight of this third European tournament. “I had actually never been to Poland,” says the former AZ coach on the phone.
The 56-year-old left for Poland last summer, where Denny Landzaat from Amsterdam is his assistant. “It really is a beautiful, but also a large country. We regularly take the plane for away games. And a bus journey of eight to nine hours is no exception.”
Just like in the Netherlands, the competition in Poland is also approaching its end. Last season, Lech Poznan won the championship and Van den Brom’s club is currently in third place. “We had a difficult start, but after that it went well. We play nice football and the European successes make the season special.”
Lech Poznan will face Italy’s Fiorentina in the quarterfinals of the Conference League. “A tough opponent. I’m curious, but I’m confident. We haven’t lost at home in Europe yet.”
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“It has never happened that a Polish club has reached the quarterfinals of a European tournament,” Van den Brom continues his story about Lech Poznan’s European triumph. “Of course that feels great. For the club, but also very special for me as a coach. The whole of Poland who loves football talks about this and that you can play a role in it as a coach is of course great.”
“We meet AZ in the final, always keep dreaming and thinking positively”
“I was actually hoping for Anderlecht or AZ as opponents in the quarterfinals, but now I think it’s special that they play against each other.” AZ will first visit the Belgian capital on Thursday 13 April and the return will be in Alkmaar a week later.
“I watch all AZ matches. And I think it’s great that AZ always manages to make it a nice whole, despite the many transfers that the players make. Only Pantelis Hatzidiakos remains from my time.”
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“I follow Anderlecht a little less, I also have the impression that the club has brightened up a bit due to the European successes. Under the new trainer things are also going better in the competition after the winter break.”
Danish coach Brian Riemer took over from fired Italian coach Felice Mazzu in December. Van den Brom cannot meet his old employers in a possible semi-final, but he can in the final battle. “So we will meet AZ in the final”, the experienced coach laughs through the receiver. “Always keep dreaming and thinking positive.”
In addition to AZ, Anderlecht, Lech Poznan and Fiorentina, West Ham United, AA Gent, Basel and Nice are also in the quarterfinals of the Conference League.
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