A great tournament with a disappointing final chapter. That’s how Ajax’s participation in the AEGON Future Cup 2013 can best be described. The Amsterdam team’s under 17 talents lost the final of their ‘home tournament’ 2-0 on Monday against their counterparts from RSC Anderlecht.
After an almost flawless pool phase with three wins in a row (without even allowing a single goal against), B1 made a big impression in the semi-finals. Benfica was hopelessly defeated in that game, 5-0. Ajax’s play was swift, dominant and showed real flair. These elements were unfortunately lacking in Orlando Trustfull’s team in the semi-final game against Anderlecht. The Ajax players thus didn’t do justice to their good work from earlier on in the tournament.
“If you look at it from a developmental point of view, then I saw many good things”, said Trustfull, looking back on the AEGON Future Cup final. The Ajax players didn’t succeed in keeping the title. In the previous edition of the Future Cup, they defeated their age counterparts from Manchester United. Trustfull, looking back on Saturday, Sunday and Monday: “We did an amazing job in this entire tournament.”
Ajax B1 had a dream start against SL Benfica after an ultra-early 1-0 lead thanks to Damon Mirani. The roles were reversed in the final match against Anderlecht; this time, it was Ajax who went down a goal early on. Aron Leya Iseka struck gold in the second minute: 0-1. “This morning, the field was wet, and now it’s dry as cork and bumpy”, said Trustfull in the catacombs of the Toekomst. Just as the way the scoring went resulted in a different match according to the coach. “Anderlecht saw us play this morning. In the finals, they let themselves hang back and wait more. My guys are 16, 17. In a situation like that, they can get a bit restless. That’s how it is at this age. This final was definitely an educational one. Later, I’ll always be able to remind them: ‘do you remember how we played during the finals against Anderlecht?’
Before the first ten minutes had passed, the Belgians had struck again. Nabil Jaadi (who was named adidas Best Player of the AEGON Future Cup after the finals) sent the ball coolly past keeper Indy Groothuizen. Ajax couldn’t recover from this blow. Trustfull’s talents barely even forced any real opportunities. Against Anderlecht, who was playing heavily defensive football, it was – honestly – especially difficult to play. A first goal, never mind a tying one, simply wasn’t in the cards for Ajax in the remainder of this final match.
“Ajax’s academy can definitely hold its own against the academies of other strong clubs”, assessed Trustfull. “That’s become apparent after this tournament. Teaching players, according to our philosophy, is the priority. Youth is our lifeblood. I’m convinced that a few years from now, some of these guys will be in Ajax 1. The question as to who will make it is obviously difficult to answer. I’ve also only just gotten here. They have the talent to become very good. We’ll see how they hold up mentally in the coming years.”
Indy Groothuizen; Zakaria El Azzouzi (31. Leeroy Owusu), Damian van Bruggen, Damon Mirani (31. Vissers), Jairo Riedewald, Terry Lartey Sanniez (43. Pelle Clement), Jordy Bruijn (43. Shaquill Sno), James Efmorfidis (31. Vaclav Cerny), Abdelhak Nouri, Ezra Walian, Riechedley Bazoer.