Ajax lost a friendly match against FC Nordsjaelland. Denmark’s number six team celebrated its win on the HHC Hardenberg field, 1-3. Danny Bakker saved Ajax’s honour ten minutes before the end.
Midfielder Nemanja Gudelj was upset at the loss, but didn’t want to draw too many conclusions from it. “First of all: I don’t like to lose, not at all. I actually hate it, but in this phase, we need to pay attention to the execution, and the positive sides. For example, I thought we were good at putting on pressure at certain times. The field wasn’t that fast and that was to the disadvantage of the attacking team. I think that explains why we weren’t able to make much happen.”
De Boer had given a starting spot to Zakaria El Azzouzi. The young centre forward was surrounded by young players Robert Muric (right wing) and Donny van de Beek (at 10). Routine and experience was more present at the back of the field. Jasper Cillessen was assisted by defenders Ricardo van Rhijn, John Heitinga, Joël Veltman and Nick Viergever.
Ajax struggled in the first half. The warm summer weather seemed to drain the players, who acted as such. Ajax did dominate and have more ball possession, but was unable to create opportunities. FC Nordsjaelland, on the other hand, was very efficient. The Danes appeared before their opposing goal twice in the first half and made good both times. After six minutes, target man Marcus Ingvartsen was able to score, unhindered, from close range. Only ten minutes later, wing forward David Karlsson beat his opponent Viergever on speed and beat Cillessen with a direct shot: 0-2.
Ajax couldn’t bring much in return. El Azzouzi had the most stylish answer, sending a half overhead shot just wide of the Nordsjaelland goal after thirteen minutes. Businesslike Van de Beek also came close to scoring just before halftime. After a fluid attack and good receipt, the attacking midfielder was stopped at the moment he was going to take his shot. In the second half, Ajax’s play improved somewhat, becoming more threatening. Nordsjaelland was forced back quite a bit, but still had opportunities. Outstanding Karlsson, who was an enduring plague for Viergever, appeared twice in front of Andre Onana, Ajax’s keeper in the second half. The Cameroonian won the battle the first time, but conceded the next one in the 64th minute.
De Boer had made three substitutions during the break, and made two more during the second half. Fifteen minutes before time, the other six starting players were called to the sideline. Ajax’s replacement team managed to score. Danny Bakker took a shot from the penalty kick area’s edge with his left foot and scored: 1-3.
Nordsjaelland, with this win, had a good dress rehearsal for their competition, which starts in exactly one week. Gudelj was impressed by the opponent. “I thought they were a good team. I had expected that beforehand, considering that we’re only playing strong opponents during the pre-season.”
After that, Gudelj signed autographs, as did Jasper Cillessen. Most Ajacieds, including the technical staff, had already boarded the car towards Epe. Ajax plays its second friendly of the day there three hours after kick-off in Hardenburg. The opponent is Panathinaikos.