Ajax kicked off their preseason campagne with a 5-1 victory against amateur side FC Omniworld in Almere. In the first first half there was more for the crowd to enjoy than in the second, and entertaining the fans is more important in the preseason than the result, said Ronald Koeman.
For various reasons, Ronald Koeman did not have a full squad so their were just seventeen players available for the first match in the new season. In Rafael van der Vaart's absence, the players who were at Euro 2004 have some more time off, goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont began as the team's captain and when he was replaced by Maarten Stekelenburg, the Dutch goalkeeper took the captain's band.
Ajax wanted only two goalkeepers on the list and therefore Hans Vonk was left out of the team. John OBrien also did not play, he had some light physical problems. Petri Pasanen started in the centre of defence with Julien Escudé playing right before him. The wingbacks were Nigel de Jong and Maxwell. In midfield Steven Pienaar played the 'number 10' position with Anthony Obodai to his right and rookie Rasmus Lindgren to his left. Up front from left to right Tom Soetaers, Yannis Anastasiou and Tom de Mul.
Tom de Mul was clearly enjoying himself. The young Belgian winger entertained the fans with nice moves and rewarded himself with a fantastic goal in the 35th minute. The fact that he got to start did not surprise De Mul. ,,I think the coach will let everybody play in these preseason matches and it does not matter much if you start or you come off the bench. But it felt good playing on the right wing. I am already in pretty good shape because I did not have much of a holiday. Maybe when school finishes, it will feel like I have a proper holiday.''
Rasmus Lindgren was surprised that he got to play and the midfielder even played the full 90 minutes. ,,I did not expect that'', said the Swede. ,,I thought maybe I would get some minutes, but a whole match never entered my mind.'' Lindgren only heard ten days ago that he would train and play with the first team. ,,I was on holiday in Greece when Young Ajax coach John van t Schip called me. It was great news of course.'' The Swedish youngster feels good in the group. ,,Everyone treats me well and I have a good impression.'' He was also satisfied with his first match for Ajax 1. ,,Especially in the first half, when I played on my own position. In the second half I played left back and I had never played there before. But I did not have much to do, so it went well.''
In the second half all the players who had been on the bench came on. Daniël de Ridder played as right midfielder, Hedwiges Maduro took Escudé's position, De Mul was replaced with Victor Sikora, Soetaers by Nicolae Mitea, Wesley Sonck came on for Anastasiou and as mentioned the goalkeepers traded places.
Ajax did not play with much energy in the second half. The team only scored once, through Anthony Obodai. The side did hit the posts quite a few time. But as Ronald Koeman said, the result was not really important. ,,What matters is that we entertained the crowd. I saw some positive things and some negative. That we win is only important in the sense that we are supposed to beat amatuer sides'', the coach said.
The Ajax boss was satisfied with the youngsters in his team. ,,Tom de Mul played well. There was a lot of danger from the right in the first half. Lindgren played well in the first half. And Maduro seemd to be comfortable out there. He has a good pass but we already knew that. The young guys have to get minutes now and later, after the training camp in De Lutte, we will decide if they stay with the first team longer.