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Alkmaar await Auxerre and Kalou

Published: Monday 1 November 2004, 18.55CET
Group F: AZ Alkmaar start their UEFA Cup quest against AJ Auxerre and free-scoring Bonaventure Kalou. features

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Published: Monday 1 November 2004, 18.55CET

Alkmaar await Auxerre and Kalou

Group F: AZ Alkmaar start their UEFA Cup quest against AJ Auxerre and free-scoring Bonaventure Kalou.
Grazer AK entertain KS Amica Wronki on Thursday with both sides looking for a lift after recent slips on the home front, while in-form teams AZ Alkmaar, making their Group F debut, and AJ Auxerre meet at the Alkmaarderhout.

GAK welcome Amica on Thursday still struggling to reclaim the form that took them to the Austrian Bundesliga title last season. They fell further off the pace with Saturday's surprise 1-1 draw at home to strugglers SV Mattersburg. Coach Walter Schachner made four changes and his new-look lineup started the match with confidence. Alen Škoro put the home side ahead on 20 minutes and GAK had chances to stretch their lead before the break, but they failed to make the most of their opportunities and Mattersburg secured a fortunate draw in the second half. GAK are now eight points off the pace, set by SK Rapid Wien, in fourth after 15 matches. They will at least take confidence from their 0-0 draw away to AJ Auxerre on Matchday 1.

Amica coach Maciej Skorž described his side's 5-0 defeat by Rangers on Matchday 1 as a "very important lesson", and he will be looking for a measure of improvement against GAK at the Arnold Schwarzenegger stadium on Thursday. Skorž will also hope to improve on Saturday's disappointing 1-0 loss away to MKS Pogon Szczecin that ended to his side's sequence of three straight league wins. Amica remain third in the Ekstraklasa, eight points behind Wisla Kraków after ten matches.

Alkmaar had Matchday 1 off, but warmed up for their Group F debut at home to Auxerre in style by defeating fellow UEFA Cup hopefuls Feyenoord 4-1 on Sunday. The score was 1-1 at half-time at the Alkmaarderhout after Joris Mathijsen's opener had been cancelled out by Jan Kromkamp's own goal, but the home side ran away with the match after the break. Dane Kenneth Perez scored twice before Pascal Bosschaart and Chong-Gug Song were both sent off for Feyenoord. Former Feyenoord striker Robin Nelisse completed the rout in the closing minutes. The victory took Alkmaar up to third in the Eredivisie, just a point behind Feyenoord and only two off leaders PSV Eindhoven. Midfield player Olaf Lindenbergh is fit again after injury and could return on Thursday, but Finnish international Juha Reini is still out with an achilles heel injury.

Auxerre have not lost in five Ligue 1 matches and face Alkmaar in excellent form despite being held by Paris Saint-Germain FC to a 1-1 draw on Saturday. Bonaventure Kalou, who has already scored twice in three UEFA Cup matches this season, got the goal that keeps Guy Roux's side third in Ligue 1. Defenders Johan Radet, Jean-Sébastien Jaurès and Jean-Pascal Mignot are all long-term injury victims so will not feature against Alkmaar.

Rangers FC have the week off after beating Amica 5-0 on Matchday 1. They narrowed the gap at the top of the Scottish Premier League this week thanks to wins against Dunfermline AFC and Aberdeen FC. On Wednesday, Rangers won 2-1 away to Dunfermline, while leaders Celtic FC fell to a dramatic defeat against Aberdeen. Now within four points of the leaders, Rangers remained in touch on Sunday as they overcame Aberdeen 5-0 with goals from Steven Thompson, Peter Løvenkrands, Nacho Novo, Fernando Ricksen and a Novo penalty. Dado Pršo suffered a head injury in the game, but defender Alan Hutton is back in action after recovering from ankle ligament damage. In the UEFA Cup, Rangers next play GAK at Ibrox on 25 November.

Last updated: 02/11/04 14.34CET

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