DAVID SMITH - Friday, May 10, 2013
Jozy Altidore and AZ will close the books on the 2012-13 season on Sunday when they visit relegated last-place team Wilhelm II Tilburg.
Altidore scored the winning goal on Thursday night in AZ's cup final against PSV Eindhoven in Rotterdam, an impressive victory for a team that had only really started to shine in recent weeks.
AZ can feasibly finish as high as eighth place should they win and results go their way in the games of Heerenveen and Den Haag, which would normally qualify them for the post-season playoff for European qualification.
However, as they have automatically been placed into the final play-off round of Europa League qualification thanks to their impressive cup run, Sunday's game will be their last of the season, and the last chance for many of the departing stars to play on the same field.
Tilburg has managed just 20 points throughout the entire season while allowing a league's worst 76 goals, however did have relative success against AZ the first time they met in posting one of their three shut-out performances in a scoreless draw.
They are, however, facing a vastly different AZ team which is brimming with confidence, and will have to be wary not to fall victim to another drubbing like last weekend's 5-0 loss to Ajax.
Aside from Maarten Martens, all AZ players are fit and available for the game.
The Tricolores are missing only defender Kees van Buuren, who will watch from the stands after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season in last weekend's game.