Ajax qualified for the KNVB Cup quarter finals on Thursday evening. Visiting the Top Amateur League club Ijsselmeervogels, Ajax won, 0-3. Ajax will meet Feyenoord in the quarter finals.
For weeks, there was talk of the ‘dream draw’, as it was called in the program booklet, in Spakenburg. ‘For an association like the Ijsselmeervogels, that’s a jackpot both on a financial and PR level. In terms of athletic achievements, we should be happy if we manage to keep the score reasonable’, said the chairman in his foreword. This summarized the charm of the cup tournament nicely. Because after all, what is nicer for an amateur club than to receive a visit from the current national champion? In addition to that, the match between the Ijsselmeervogels and Ajax was on between the most successful amateur club and the most successful professional one of the Netherlands. This was a nice tidbit of information that could regularly be heard through the speakers at the sports club.
Ajax started in roughly the same formation as usual at Sportpark De Westmaat. Only Jasper Cillessen got the night off from Frank de Boer for this midweek cup match. Kenneth Vermeer defended Ajax’s goal in Spakenburg. Ricardo van Rhijn and Lasse Schöne also started off on the bench. Christian Poulsen was the midfield controller, and Daley Blind took the left back position.
The difference between Ajax and its hosts was clear from the start. Shortly after the smoke cleared, Ajax took the lead. After three and a half minutes, Viktor Fischer scored the opening goal. Five minutes later, Danny Hoesen doubled the score. After the home team was messing around in its own penalty shot area, the Ajax centre forward struck mercilessly with a spot-on shot: 0-2.
It seemed like a monster score was in the making, but the Ijsselmeervogels regrouped quickly. After an overwhelming first fifteen minutes by Ajax, the ‘Vogels’ also had several opportunities in the first half. Tall forward Thomas Verheijdt dangerously appeared before the goal several times. First it was a header which just went over, and after that, he made an attempt with a long distance shot. Shortly before the break, he came face to face with Vermeer. In this second attempt, Ajax’s goalie was too good for him. Maikel de Harder, the only Spakenburg native on the field, came close to scoring after half an hour of play. His shot went over Ajax’s goal. Frank de Boer: “The opening phase couldn’t have been better. I need to compliment the Ijsselmeervogels for just continuing to play after that. They didn’t roll over. Through their enthusiasm, they got the crowd behind the game, too.”
The leader of the Top Amateur League remained dangerous in the second half. In the opening phase, Bennie van Noord had a good opportunity. On a counter, he shot the ball onto the post. Coach Gert Kruys’ team thus emphasized that they wouldn’t simply give in. After cup wins against FC Lienden, Helmond Sport and FC Emmen, they kept their cup dreams alive until midway through the second half. But they wouldn’t match the high point in the club’s history (semi-finals, 195). In the 63rd minute, Viktor Fischer put an end to that illusion by scoring with a searing long-distance shot: 0-3. De Boer: “I was satisfied with the approach and score build-up tonight. Of course I would have liked to see two or three more goals in the final phase, but the attitude was good, and that’s the important thing.”
Fifteen minutes before the end, Jaïro Riedewald made his official debut for Ajax 1. The 17 year old defender came in for Daley Blind. After being part of the match selection for the first time on Sunday against SC Cambuur, he can frame his number 42 jersey as his official debut one. “There’s only one word for this: proud. It’s amazing to be able to make my debut at such a young age”, said the rookie afterwards with a broad smile. De Boer: “This substitution was a reward for Jaïro. We don’t have many left back right now. In addition to that, Daley had a few aches and pains towards the end of the match. So it was the ideal moment to Jaïro to make his debut.”
Ajax continues in the cup tournament at the start of 2014 with a home game against Feyenoord.