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NAC Breda coach demands recovery

NAC Breda coach Robert Maaskant has told his players to pick themselves up and get on with the job of clinching a Europa League berth via the Eredivisie after being dumped out of the KNVB Beker in midweek.

Tuesday's 3-1 defeat at FC Twente in the cup semi-finals left Maaskant's men deflated but the coach insists there is still all to play for in the league.

"It looks as if a few players have the idea that making it into the play-offs is no longer that important," he told newspaper BN/De Stem. "But I absolutely think we must be part of that."

NAC hold seventh spot - the last Europa League play-off berth - despite suffering a shock 4-0 thrashing at Heracles Almelo last Friday, but Maaskant has warned there must be no repeat of such a lapse when they travel to mid-table NEC Nijmegen on Saturday.

"A match such as the one against Heracles doesn't fit into what I have in mind for NAC. That may never happen again."

Sunday's Amsterdam ArenA encounter between Ajax and AZ Alkmaar may be something of an anti-climax with Louis van Gaal's team confirmed as champions last weekend.

Ajax's 6-2 defeat at PSV Eindhoven ended their mathematical chances of catching the runaway leaders, meaning Sunday's match could be more of a title celebration for the visitors.

Marco van Basten's team have all to play for, however, with second place in the standings - and a Champions League qualifying berth - up for grabs.

Second-placed Twente head into the weekend one point ahead of Ajax and play the first of their remaining three regular-season games on Saturday at Heerenveen in what will be a dress rehearsal for the KNVB Beker final, Trond Sollied's men having advanced with a 2-0 victory over FC Volendam last night.

Also on Saturday, 2008 champions PSV - who moved up to fourth and a Europa League spot on the back of last week's rout - visit 13th-placed Heracles while Roda JC and FC Volendam will both be looking to move out of the relegation play-off places when they go head to head in Kerkrade.

Feyenoord moved up to ninth and into contention for a Europa League play-off spot thanks to a 1-0 triumph over Twente last weekend - a result which ended the title chances of Steve McClaren's team.

Leon Vlemmings' side can give their European hopes another boost with a further three points at ADO Den Haag on Sunday.

The other two matches on Sunday see Vitesse Arnhem host FC Utrecht and Willem II travel to FC Groningen.

The weekend's action kicks off tomorrow night when basement boys De Graafschap visit Sparta Rotterdam.


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