Verhoek enjoying ADO success
The Hague-based club are on the brink of securing a place in the Europa League for just the second time in their 108-year history when they meet FC Groningen in a two-legged tie. ADO could hardly have imagined they would find themselves in such a position when they narrowly escaped relegation 12 months ago but, after a season in which they have routinely turned the form book around, Verhoek is confident of his side's chances ahead of the first leg at the Kyocera Stadion on Thursday night. "The basis of our good performances this season has been all about fun and enjoyment," Verhoek said. "Every day I drive to the club with a smile on my face because I find myself learning and getting better. "Our game is about flair and bluff, chasing and attacking opponents. It is an enjoyment to be a part of that." ADO are the slight underdogs to add to their only other appearance in Europe's second-tier competition - when they reached the then UEFA Cup back in 1971-72 - after Groningen thrashed them 4-2 on their home turf earlier this month. Groningen also finished the higher of the two teams in the table, fifth, after just missing out on direct entry to the Europa league following a 0-0 draw with PSV Eindhoven on the final day. That forced them into the play-offs where they edged past Heracles on away goals in their semi-final while ADO, who ended the season on a run of four straight defeats, turned around their form to beat Roda JC 6-3 on aggregate. Groningen will be without Tim Sparv for Thursday's game after he was sent off in the 2-1 second-leg win over Heracles, although Dusan Tadic is free to play after a KNVB investigation team decided against charging him following a clash with Glynor Crush. In the relegation-promotion play-offs, VVV-Venlo and Excelsior will both be aiming to retain their Eredivisie status when they meet Zwolle and Helmond Sport respectively. VVV have the harder task on paper as they meet a Zwolle side who finished second in the Eerste Divisie table, although they scraped through their semi-final against Cambuur on penalties. Excelsior will be looking to avoid an immediate return to the second tier against Helmond, who have not graced the Eredivisie since the 1983-84 season. "You can't get any closer than this," Helmond's American defender Charles Kazlauskas told MLSsoccer.com. "We have a good team and I think it's a 50-50 battle with Excelsior. "We know a lot about Excelsior. We played them last year in the Eerste Divisie. We have some players who have played with them before. We won't be surprised."