SV Urk had half an hour to dream of a cup upset. The Saturday-league team opened with passion, but by halftime, knew that the cup tournament was over for them. Lerin Duarte, cup top scorer Arek Milik (2 goals) and scoring debutant Richairo Zivkovic lifted Ajax to the round of sixteen: 0-4.
“One minute, Ajax is in Camp Nou against Barcelona. And the next, the national champion is in Urk to fight for a spot in the fourth round of the cup tournament.” The enthusiastic speaker from SV Urk sketched a good picture or Ajax’s extreme football adventure in this part of the season, shortly before kick-off. One week after the UEFA Champions League meeting in the Catalan capital, the Ajax player’s bus now brought its passengers to the Flevopolder.
Saying that Urk natives were enthusiastic about the game would be a huge understatement. Since the national champion had been matched to the Saturday-league team, cup fever had broken out in the fishing village. The maximum of 4.000 seats were sold out in no time at all. The fever reached a pitch on Tuesday at lively sports park De Vormt, the home base which was fully packed half an hour before kick-off. The thousands of spectators – Ajax fans were not welcome as a consequence of the fighting during the KNVB Cup finals – got their money’s worth. But it was hard to say that the Amsterdam team was really forced to play without the support of its own faithful fans. As Urk captain Siemen Lindeboom had said beforehand: “Urk is a very Ajax-minded village.” That was clearly seen and felt.
Although Urk and Ajax were facing each other for the first time, several parallels could be drawn between the teams. This could also explain why the Urkers welcomed the national champions so warmly. Ajax’s assistant coach Hennie Spijkerman built up some valuable experience in the beginning of his coaching career as SV Urk’s coach. De Boer’s trusted right-hand man celebrated his 64th birthday on Tuesday. Keeper’s trainer Henk Boer is also the father of Diederik Boer, Ajax’s keeper. Boer junior was Ajax’s cup keeper at De Vormt. Captain Lindeboom also mentioned that among the Urkers on the field – let alone in the stands - there are several Ajax season ticket holders.
The cup match was – as could be seen and heard – an unforgettable experience for Urk. Riechedly Bazoer surely experienced an intense match as well. The 18 year old midfielder was making his debut in Frank de Boer’s squad. The Ajax coach said on Tuesday that he would take this opportunity to give a night off to a few steady players. Among these were Kolbeinn Sigthórsson, Niklas Moisander, Nicolai Boilesen, Lucas Andersen, Jairo Riedewald and Jasper Cillessen, who were absent from the match selection.
As some Ajacieds enjoyed a free evening, it was an opportunity for up and coming Ajax talent to show their stuff. Queensy Menig appeared at kick-off on left attack. The 19 year old talent made his debut in Ajax’s last cup match; the 0-9 victory in the city derby against JOS/Watergraafsmeer. The man who gave the evening extra punch with the six goals he scored, Arek Milik, was the starting centre forward in Urk. Bazoer played his first official match with number 27 on his back, as the controlling midfielder. Davy Klaassen was Ajax’s captain, while right back Ruben Ligeon got an opportunity, too. Richairo Zivkovich was on the bench. “We need to steamroll Urk, Frank de Boer had summarized the general expectations succinctly beforehand.
It ended up taking half an h our before anything happened. After the first thirty minutes, during which the home team spiced the match with great attacking football, Lerin Duarte broke the stalemate. The midfielder sent a well-times shot into the goal: 0-1. The home team’s momentum was broken. Earlier on, it was mainly William de Boer who managed to make Ajax’s defense waver at times. Shots from the small but technically gifted forward disappeared wide, over, or in Diederik Boer’s gloves.
After the opening goal, it was the visitors’ turn to take shots. Three minutes later, Milik doubled the lead. The Polish offensive leader scored with a header shortly again before halftime. Milik took fantastic advantage of Queensy Menig’s good pass: 0-3. After six goals against JOS/Watergraafsmeer, the Pole is virtually a shoo-in for the prize of KNVB Cup tournament top scorer. In that respect, it was a shame that Milik was forced to cede his spot in the second half. Ajax had yet another player making a debut in Richairo Zivkovic. The centre forward showed his good feel for tradition by crowning his substitution with a goal in the final minutes.
The Amsterdam team was satisfied at this point and let Urk play their game. Boer experienced a stressful moment with substitute Teun Hakvoort sent his attempt on the crossbar. Earlier on, Gerrit Tol had seen his attempt turned away by the Ajax goalie. The Urk team didn’t get any closer after that. The balance after two KNVB Cup tournament games is satisfying, especially in terms of number of goals. With thirteen goals and not a single goal against, the Ajax qualified for the round of sixteen. On Thursday, the draw for the next round will take place.