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Buoyed by eclipsing SV Werder Bremen for a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, FC Twente have barely stood still since a 3-3 draw with Tottenham Hotspur FC marked the end of their UEFA Champions League adventure.
The Tukkers used the four-week break from domestic action to refresh at the end of a calendar year that had earned them one Dutch championship and many more admirers – and are now ready to face FC Rubin Kazan on 17 and 24 February. They will do so with winger Emir Bajrami back after more than three months out injured, and with a new face checking in for the flight to Russia – defender Oguchi Onyewu, recruited on loan from AC Milan.
"I had a very good first impression – great stadium, great infrastructure, friendly people, warm atmosphere," Onyewu says in UEFA.com's behind-the-scenes documentary: The Twente Story.
"In the last 14 months, I've had different injuries and different issues in terms of playing, and now I'm given the opportunity to come to a club as good as FC Twente and able to be playing again. I think I am taking a step forward, and every opportunity I get on the field, I'm going to try to make the most of it."
Acclimatising to the personnel at Twente may be easy for Onyewu, who played under coach Michel Preud'homme during his time at R. Standard de Liège. However, after some warm-weather training in La Manga, getting used to the wintry conditions in Tatarstan for next Thursday's first leg may be tougher against a knowledgeable opponent.
"Between the training camps in Turkey and Spain, a couple of their games were shown on Russian TV," says Rubin goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov. "They won one game and I saw 15 minutes: a very interesting team. I think it will be a very interesting match, for them to play in our cold weather and for us to play in the Netherlands."
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