Ajax defeated SC Veendam, 1-5, in its fourth practice match of the preparations for the new season. De Boer used two different teams in Buitenpost. “We started off badly, but in the end I saw some good things”, De Boer summarized the win of the practice match.
In Buitenpost, Friesland, the local Football Association hosted Ajax once again. Last season, the Amsterdam team faced VVV Buitenpost itself at De Swadde sports park. The friendly duel resulted in a victory at the time.
SC Veendam wasn’t strong enough for the national champions. Frank de Boer chose for Siem de Jong as captain once again in the Fries village. After Jan Vertonghen’s official departure, the midfielder will definitively take over the red and black captain’s band. Theo Janssen and Vurnon Anita are the reserve captains. As befits a captain, De Jong took the lead right away and had a tangible part in the match’s result by scoring before the break (1-2).
Ajax made a faulty start at De Swadde. After eleven minutes, the completely uncovered Robert Katschner cashed in on Ajax’s defensive mistake with a vengeance. The Veendam player made child’s play of the goal, shooting straight in: 1-0. In addition to De Jong, Viktor Fischer was among the most outstanding Ajax players before the break. The Danish talent received the news in De Lutte that he would be staying in the A-selection. Fischer repaid this trust in him in Buitenpost. With fresh, attacking and creative playing, the forward was a continuous thorn in the side of Veendam’s defence.
Two minutes after Katschner’s opening goal, Ajax cashed in on a mistake, this time on the Groningen team’s side of the field. Aras Özbiliz, Ajax’s starting right winger, punished the yellow and black team’s sloppy loss of possession. With a 1-1 score on the board within fifteen minutes, a goal-rich evening seemed to be in the making.
The 1-3 score at halftime was fitting of a match in which Ajax was creating lots of opportunities, but could have, and maybe should have, struck more often. The goal with which Ajax first took the lead was beautiful, however. It started with a spike from Daley Blind, who shot against the crossbar. A few moments later, Ajax’s new captain struck with a spectacular half volley: 1-2. Sensation Fischer ensured the 1-3 three minutes before the break. Keeper Robbert te Loeke erroneously put the ball at the Dane’s feet. It was a simple task for the talented player, who was phenomenal last season with Ajax A1, to score.
With Jasper Cillissen replacing Kenneth Vermeer between, Ajax came back with only one fresh face in the second half. The real metamorphosis followed when the remaining ten basis players were all systematically swapped after exactly one hour. The youngest players were given their chance to shine by De Boer. Davy Klaassen turned up at centre forward, while right winger Jody Lukoki emerged during the second half as one of the most threatening Ajax players. The forward easily got the crowd on his side of the field cheering for him.
“I get so much energy when the crowd rewards my plays with cheering; in that sense, I really play to the crowd”, said Lukoki, looking back on his part in the 1-5 win against Veendam. “It’s extra nice to score my first goal tonight, during these preparations. I got a great feeling from this match and I’m focussing on a spot among the first eighteen Ajax players. This gives me confidence, and there’s more to come.”
Even against a much younger Ajax team, SC Veendam wasn’t able to pick up steam. The Jupiler League team barely managed to reach Cillessen. On a pass from Yener Arica, a surprise inclusion in the match selection, Joël Veltman scored from nearby 1-4 in the closing minutes. Lukoki crowned his great second half just before the end with the 1-5 goal. The winger rounded off a drawn-out rush nicely, and thus had the last word in lively but rainy Buitenpost. In Buitenpost, just as in previous Ajax practice matches, the opportunity to take a picture with the 2011-2012 championship cup was taken advantage of to the fullest.
“We started out sloppy, especially in passing”, said De Boer. “Because of that sloppiness, Veendam was able to score. Once our play became cleaner, you could see that the passing improved. We’ve worked hard enough tonight. An opponent like Veendam goes with the phase we’re in. In that respect, it was a very useful game.”