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Arnhem preview: Ferdinand and Iversen

Posted on 12 August 2000  - 12:00

English Barclays Premiership


Saturday's final pre-season friendly against Vitesse Arnhem will evoke bad memories for two of our stars. For Steffen Iversen, right, it means a return to the ground where Norway suffered a heartbreaking exit from the European Championships this summer.


Click here for live feed from 6.55pm Saturday.

Meanwhile for fellow striker Les Ferdinand it means crossing swords again with Ronald Koeman - the Dutch great and now Vitesse Arnhem manager who almost single-handedly ended Ferdinand and England's World Cup dreams in 1994.

Iversen and Norway thought they had done enough to reach the quarter-finals of Euro2000 after a 0-0 draw against Slovenia in the final group game at Vitesse Arnhem. However Spain, who needed to beat Yugoslavia to have any chance of progressing, recovered from 3-2 down in injury time to win 4-3 and leave Iversen and the Norwegians devastated.

"It was a nightmare for everyone," recalled Iversen. "Especially as when we came off we knew that Spain were losing 3-2. We had just played a few minutes' injury time and we all thought there was no way they could score twice in that time."

Ferdinand was a regular member of the England squad during qualification for the 1994 World Cup under Graham Taylor. He played in the 2-2 draw at Wembley before Koeman instigated England's exit by first bringing down David Platt on the edge of the area, escaping a red card, before clipping home a free-kick as Holland won the crucial return match. Koeman is now boss at Vitesse Arnhem and guided them to fourth in the Dutch League last season.

Ferdinand said: "I played against him a few times for England. He was always a world-class performer with a fierce shot and repertoire of free-kicks. Unfortunately we were on the receiving end of one of them which knocked us out of the 1994 World Cup. He was a quality player, spent many years at Barcelona and now he's doing well as a manager. It will be a tough game for us."

Ferdinand looks back to his best after Achilles surgery in May. He has scored three goals in pre-season, the latest at QPR last Saturday.

"I've taken each day as it comes in pre-season and each day has been better than the previous one, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping it stays that way. The more I train the better it feels and that only brings confidence."