Eleven juniors had to complete Ajax 2 in the Amstel Cup match against Excelsior. Together with the remaining five players of Ajax 2 they fought for what they were worth in Rotterdam, but they could not prevent that Excelsior went to the next round after winning 4-2.
The match was more a useful test match than a heated cup tie. Ajax had so many professional players injured or suspended, that reaching the quarter final of the Amstel Cup, the competition in which Ajax 2 reached the semis last season, would be a 'mission: impossible' with so many juniors.
Despite the fact that the hoem team was the heavy favorite, Ajax struck first. After only five minutes Jamal Akachar headed in a corner by Michael Krohn-Dehli.
,,I had no hope of an upset before the game'', said coach John van 't Schip. ,,When we scored, I thought 'who knows?', but the difference in quality became visible after that.''
Excelsior came on strong after the first fifteen minutes. The side from Rotterdam was mainly dangerous through its wingers Pinas en Koswal. In the 17th minute Mounir el Hamdaoui benefited from a turnover by Thomas Vermaelen and the forward from Excelsior calmly made it 1-1.
From that moment on, Excelsior dictated the pace in the match. Ajax had to go back more and more and hardly found time to build an attack. Goalkeeper Robert Zwinkels saved an attempt by Ferry de Haan in the 32nd minute, but six minutes later he did not have an answer when Cecilio Lopes made it 2-1.
,,Early in the second half the game opened up, and, if you look at it from an Ajax-perspective, we could have made it 2-2. After that, we were through'', coach Van 't Schip analysed. Ajax's best chance came seven minutes after halftime, when Jamal Akachar made a run and passed to Michal Krohn-Dehli in the middle. The Danish winger shot the ball against an opponent.
After that Ajax's powers soon faded. Excelsior cleverly raised the tempo and that paid off. Gabriel Mofokeng was once again outrun by left winger Brian Pinas, whose cross was beautifully converted into a goal by Cecilio Lopes: 3-1.
Although visibly tired, Akachar and Gerard Aafjes paid the toll for their hard work, Ajax 2 came back once again. Jussi Kujala made it 3-2 from the penalty spot, after a hand ball in the box.
But five minutes later substitute Brett Holman made an end to all hopes, when he finished a combination through the middle. Ajax did not have any strength left for an offensive.
,,We gave it all we had'', Van 't Schip thought. ,,I am proud of the team. After all, we had to put the squad together only yesterday. There is no core of regular Ajax 2 players, like last year. I think there should be, because now the strain on the juniors is very high, and that should not be the case.''
The coach complimented Gerard Aafjes and Jamal Akachar. ,,Gerard was good in his role and Jamal showed a lot of promise.'' Only to add: ,,They have all fought very hard. But today this was the best we could do.''