No fear for Edwin

Tuesday 13 August 2002

Edwin van der Sar returns to one of his old stomping grounds on Tuesday evening as Fulham play the first leg of the Intertoto Cup final against Bologna.

Edwin's contribution to the Intertoto campaign should not be underestimated.

Despite not being involved in the early stages of the competition. His reaction save against Egaleo at Craven Cottage prevented an almost certain goal - keeping Fulham in the tie.

And following his heroics against Sochaux, it appears that Edwin is playing an increasingly important role as Fulham progress through the Intertoto Cup. Looking back on the match at the Stade Bonal, Edwin was critical of Fulham's first-half performance.

"We didn't play that well in the first-half, they had the best of the match. We didn't control the game at all and played too many long-balls. But we survived the first-half and because we had the one goal lead from the first leg, we knew it was going to be difficult for them

"In the second half we started passing the ball more, and from the moment Sylvain scored we knew we were playing a winning match. After that we relaxed and let the ball go, which resulted in the second goal. Overall the result was good but out first-half performance wasn't."

It's easy to see why assistant manager Christian Damiano classifies this match as Fulham's toughest test so far. Bologna finished 7th in last season's Serie A, only once point behind Lazio. And in Giuseppe Signori, Bologna have one of the most prolific strikers of Italian football's recent history.

In contrast to Fulham, Bologna's passage to the final has been littered with goals. This is not only due to Signori, but also the fact that almost every player appears willing to join in with their attacks.

But whilst the fixture may fill some players and fans with trepidation, Van der Sar carries an air of experience with him. This sort of match is nothing new for the Fulham goalkeeper.

"I've played twice against Bologna but that's over a year-and-a-half ago. I don't know if the team has changed much. I know a few of their players and will be sharing some information with the rest of the team.

"The match is going to be very technical and physical but we don't have to be scared of them just because they play in Serie A. We just need to make sure we win the first tackle."