During press conferences that take place on the eve of European games, a player usually joins the coach. It’s often the case – with certain exceptions – that the reporters’ focus is on the coach, and the player is somewhat in the background. In Trondheim, on the eve of the Rosenborg – Ajax return, the roles were temporarily reversed.
Marcel Keizer, who contributed mostly in the second half of the press conference, smiled sheepishly. “Matthijs has just been very clear, but I see things a bit differently. For the match in Amsterdam, I said that we were the favourite. It was a 50/50 game and that will be the same tomorrow.”
Not a good position
“We’ll need to be in good form and give everything. Of course I still have faith that we can reach the group phase, but the fact is that we haven’t done ourselves any favours and are not in a good position.”
The Norwegian press was mainly interested in De Ligt’s opinion on Nicklas Bendtner, who will most likely be his direct opponent once again. He was even asked in Bendtner was the best centre forward that De Ligt has ever faced in his young career. This question brought a smile to everyone’s face, including De Ligt’s.
“Not exactly”, was the young defender’s reaction. “He’s a good player, absolutely, but not the best.” Later on, when asked again by the Norwegians, De Ligt did go so far as to say that captain Jensen was Rosenborg’s best player, which is something that his coach agreed with. “He’s a good, experienced player, with technical know-how. He played a good game last week in Amsterdam.”
As has been the case several times in the past few weeks, the discussion turned to transfer rumours. Had AS Monaco offered tens of millions for Kasper Dolberg? Keizer had heard the rumour also, but couldn’t confirm. What he could confirm, however, was that he had had a short discussion with Dolberg. He has no doubts about whether or not he can play. “I think that Kasper is being very stoic and he can play.”
Last Sunday, Keizer and his Ajacieds broke the curse in the game against FC Groningen and posted their first win of the season. This victory should be followed up upon in Trondheim. Keizer isn’t counting on a poor result and thus missing out on European football, which would be a complete nightmare scenario.
“No, we’re not planning on losing and being eliminated. For our club and our players, especially the young guys, it’s very important that we play European football. I don’t feel any additional pressure. As Ajax, you need to win every game. We have enough experience and we know what we need to do. Post a good result and qualify for the next round. Yes, I still think that we have to qualify.”
Keizer closed on a Cruijffian note. When asked his thoughts on how they would do the job, he answered succinctly. “Score one goal more than the opponent.”