With every success comes a setback. No sooner had Excelsior completed their best season for 30 years then the brains behind the operation, Marinus Dijkhuizen, departed for Brentford. Under his successor Alfons Groenendijk another difficult season surely beckons and the aim, as always, is simply survival.

  • By Andy Booth
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Excelsior, Rotterdam’s third club after Feyenoord and historically Sparta, face a difficult task going into the new season as per usual. The Kralingers are by far the smallest club in the Eredivisie in terms of finance and reputation. At a capacity of just 3,531, Stadion Woudestein is the smallest ground in the division by about 7,000; a physical reflection of their considerable disadvantage.

Every year they have to overachieve just to stay in the top-flight which adds credit to last seasons 15th place finish under Marinus Dijkhuizen. It was the first time Excelsior avoided having to face a relegation play-off or straight relegation from the Eredivisie since the 1985-86 season.

Simultaneously Excelsior put together a strong cup run, losing the semi-final to eventual winners Groningen. A 4-1 win at Roda and 6-0 destruction of NAC the round before were the highlights of the season.

Summer Transfers

The major new signing for the club is Alfons Groenendijk, who takes over as manager following Dijkhuizen’s move to Brentford. Groenendijk’s only previous spell as boss of an Eredivisie club was with Willem II in 2009-10. They finished 17th with 23 points but survived by the skin of their teeth, winning the post-season play-off; Groenendijk was sacked regardless.

There has been a change in the goalkeeping department after Gino Coutinho earned a move to AZ; Filip Kurto arrives from recently relegated Dordrecht to replace him. 20-year-old left-back Bas Kuipers has made the permanent switch from Ajax after last seasons successful loan spell. Groenendijk has plucked two new recruits from Volendam; Brandley Kuwas and Tom Overtoom will swap their orange shirts for black ones this season. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s nephew Nigel Hasselbaink returns to the Netherlands after 5 years in Scotland, adding to the options going forward.


Pre-season has yielded mixed results for Excelsior so far. A 1-1 draw at Eerste Divisie side Oss was followed by a comfortable 4-0 win over Groenlo based club Grol. A 2-0 away win against recently relegated Go Ahead Eagles, after they lost their Europa League qualifier to Ferencváros was the stand out result as they then went on to lose 1-0 against Den Bosch. Tomorrow’s game against De Meern (Zon) will be the last test before the league season gets under way.

Key Player’s

Sander Fischer

Sander Fischer

Excelsior will expect to be on the back foot for most games this season. They will have to soak up a lot of pressure and their defence will be put to the test. Centre back, captain, and current Excelsior player of the year Sander Fischer will be pivotal to organising that. At 26, the 6 foot 3 inch defender is one of the more experienced members of the young squad and will be just as influential in the dressing room as on the pitch.

Jeff StansJeff Stans 2

Jeff Stans

Jeff Stans will be worth keeping your eye on this season. The central midfielder plays positive, attacking football and will look to get the ball moving forward quickly. As well as creating opportunities for his team mates he is more than capable of getting his own name on the scoresheet. He scored 10 last time out, including one of the goals of the season against Heracles.

One to Watch

Jordan Botaka of Excelsior event:1074

Jordan Botaka

He may have had a quieter season last time out than in 2013-14, but Jordan Botaka is certainly the most exciting player you will see in an Excelsior shirt this season. The winger has bundles of tricks up his sleeve and if he can recapture the goal scoring form of two years ago in which he scored 10 league goals, then the fans will be ecstatic.

Projected line-up

Kurto; Kuipers, Mattheij, Fischer, Bovenberg; Auassar, Bruins, Kuwas, Stans, Botaka; van Weert


As always survival is the sole objective. However the departure of Dijkhuizen is a huge blow and could prove to be a decisive factor in their bid for survival this term. Excelsior haven’t spent three consecutive seasons in the Eredivisie for 30 years and I fear that run could continue with relegation on the cards this term.

Predicted position: 17th

Andy Booth (27 Posts)