Ajax gain confidence

Ajax gain confidence

Ajax can travel to Prague with a good feeling on Tuesday for the return against Slavia. The side convincingly defeated Heerenveen by 4-1 on Sunday. ,,Only the injuries worry me”, coach Henk ten Cate said after the match.

Luis Suárez scored two goals.
Luis Suárez scored two goals.

In the national league, everything is going according to plan for Ajax. After the big win against De Graafschap last week (1-8), it was Heerenveen's turn this time. Without last year's top goalscorer Afonso Alves (he is missing again) and without the transferred Lasse Nilsson (in the past often Ajax's nemesis), Heerenveen did not make a strong impression. Ajax, who bade farewell to Wesley Sneijder before the match, dominated virtually the entire time and deserved to win. ,,Twelve goals in two matches, that's not bad”, Ten Cate said. ,,We've made a strong start to the league and looking at Wednesday, we have gained some confidence.”

With latest signing Albert Luque in attendance, Ajax began the match in sparkling fashion. Hedwiges Maduro hit the post in the first minute after goalkeeper Vandenbussche had left his goal area. The home side was ever dangerous after that. With Kennedy on the right wing and Suárez on the left, Ajax created chance after chance. But it was Heerenveen who scored first. Miralem Sulejmani was not covered properly and scored from up close.

Ajax were a bit shaken up, but were rewarded for their good play in the last minutes of the half. Suárez made it 1-1 from a free kick by Kennedy and not two minutes later, Thomas Vermaelen headed in a corner by Kennedy. After halftime Robbert Schilder, on for Maduro, made it 3-1. The midfielder fired in the ball from distance. It was his first goal for Ajax. ,,Great for me, even better for the team'', said Schilder. ,,My goal came at a good moment. After that, the match was over.” Maduro turned out to have a mild concussion.

In the 57th minute, Luis Suárez provided the high point of the afternoon. After a corner kick by Kennedy (his third assist) the ball came to the Uruguayan forward, who took the ball on his chest and struck with a gorgeous volley. Suárez was replaced by Dennis Rommedahl right after his goal. The crowd sang and chanted for Suárez. ,,That was wonderful”, Suárez said. ,,But the win is what mattered most. That's what counted today and what will count on Wednesday.”

After that, Ajax played sout the match quietly, with the league debut of Ismael Urzaiz as the only further highlight. Looking ahead at the match against Slavia Prague, Ten Cate's only worries were about the physical condition of his squad. ,,We will have our chances in Prague and we are confident that we will finish the job”, the coach said about the return game in the preliminary round of the Champions League. ,,I am, however, worried about the injuries. Maduro is now doubtful for Wednesday and Gabri's recovery is taking longer than expected.”