VVV and Excelsior seek reprieve

The opening round of the play-offs has already been completed, as

clubs from the Eerste Divisie target promotion alongside champions

RKC Waalwijk, and eight teams are still battling for two places

alongside the Dutch elite. VVV take on Volendam for the right to

tackle on Zwolle or Cambuur for a place in the Eredivisie, while

Excelsior face Den Bosch with the winners going forward to play

Helmond Sport or Veendam. VVV travel to 2008 second-tier champions

Volendam for the first leg of their play-off after finishing a

miserable season 17th in the Eredivisie. Zwolle finished 10 points

clear in second place in the second tier and face Cambuur looking

to return to the Eredivisie for the first time since 2004.

Long-serving full-back Albert van der Haar was part of the last

Zwolle squad to be relegated from the Eredivisie, and believes the

club have played the best football in their division this season.

“The season is not finished yet – we played the best football in

the Eerste Divisie, were always a class apart and scored often and

early in games. Cup ties against Willem II, FC Twente gave

additional confidence,” Van der Haar said. “In my long career at FC

Zwolle, I have only seen us twice before play the best football.

Last season we only lost four times, including twice against RKC.”

Cambuur have not sampled Eredivisie football since the 1999/2000

season. Excelsior almost avoided the play-offs when they beat

fellow strugglers Vitesse Arnhem 4-1 on the final day of the

Eredivisie season, but missed out on the four-goal margin they

needed. Excelsior, who were promoted through the play-off route

last season, face a Den Bosch side who finished eighth in the

Eerste Divisie. Helmond Sport and Veendam finished third and fourth

respectively in the second tier. They go head to head tomorrow,

with both sides aiming to reach the highest level of Dutch football

for the first time since the 1980s.