DAVID SMITH - Friday, April 5, 2013
Jozy Altidore and AZ will try to build some momentum as the season winds down while Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond hope their weekend off won't dent their title challenge.
NEC Nijmegen - AZ Alkmaar
Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar will be hopeful that they can notch a second straight win to climb farther from danger when they face NEC Nijmegen on Sunday.
AZ Barely held on to last weekend's win over Heracles despite playing nearly an hour with only ten men on the field in a much-needed confidence-boosting result.
They have a strong chance to make it two in a row as they are facing a team in Nijmegen who have been positively awful over the last month.
They are on a streak of four straight losses, where they have been outscored by a total of 11-2, and are in danger of falling completely out of contention to compete in the post-season playoff for a European berth.
Nijmegen won the earlier meeting of these teams in Alkmaar back in October, netting two early goals and effectively stifling AZ's attack for the remainder of the game.
American-born Icelandic striker Aron Jóhannsson could make his debut this weekend, after working his way back to health to make his first appearance on Gertjan Verbeek's bench last weekend since joining the team from Danish club AGF Aarhus back in January.
Defender Thomas Lam will be suspended for this game due to his red card against Heracles last weekend and midfielder Maarten Martens will still be out as he recovers from a knee injury. Fellow midfielder Willie Overtoom continues his recovery from a thigh injury, and is questionable for the game.
NEC will be missing injured midfielders Youri Loen and Evander Sno as well as forward Ruud Boymans.
Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond find themselves temporarily in first place with a three-point cushion thanks to the annulment of all previous league results this season against bankrupt club SC Veendam, however this could change quickly since they will be inactive this weekend compared to the rest of the title contenders.