A young Ajax defeated Almere City FC 1-0 on Tuesday evening. Vurnon Anita scored the only goal right before the break. This was the opening match in the renovated Mitsubishi Forklift Stadium. Frank de Boer started eight (youth) players, letting them make their celebrated debut.
Because of interland obligations, Ajax’s team consisted of a combination of players from the A-selection and Jong Ajax. The ‘Beloften’ were especially well represented in Almere. Right back Ruben Ligeon and centre forward Tom Boere made their official debut on the squad. Several familiar faces were to be seen with Almere City. Fabian Serrarens (squad), Allon Worms (bench) and Mitchell Burgzorg (stands) all went through Ajax’s youth training program. Back up goalie Kostas Peristeridis also has an Ajax past.
The opening match for the new stadium was sandwiched between the first two competition matches for both teams. Ajax began positively on Sunday with their first Eredivisie match with a 1-4 win against De Graafschap. Almere City had lost their Jupiler League opener two days earlier to MVV, 3-2. The practice match is special because Ajax and Almere City have been working together intensively on the technical area since last season.
Before the break, Ajax’s opportunities in the Netherlands’ smallest stadium were few and far between. In the first half hour, Jody Lukoki appeared twice before the goal, but didn’t manage to create any real threat. Eight minutes later, Vurnon Anita was more successful. The small midfielder, playing this time with jersey number 10, outplayed keeper Erwin Friebel and shot right in: 0-1. Soon after, Boere seemed poised to double the score, but his hard shot stuttered back out of the goal via the underside of the crossbar.
Valencia midfielder Hedwiges Maduro was one of the spectators in the full Mitsubishi Forklift Stadium. The former Ajax player has played both in Amsterdam and Almere in the past, with Omniworld. During the second half, several young ‘Beloften’ made their debut. After an hour, Lesley de Sa, Stefano Denswil, Yener Arica and Davy Klaassen all made their entrance onto the artificial turf at Almere City. Ten minutes later, midfielder Jeori de Kamps joined them as Eyong Enoh’s replacement.
During the last fifteen minutes – with the scoreboard still showing 0-1 – the average age at Ajax decreased once again when Ricardo Kip joined the last part of the game. The midfielder substituted Rodney Sneijder, who had had a shot at a second Ajax goal shortly before. Friebel, who was doing a good job in the goal, didn’t allow a second goal. Shortly before time, good attempts to double the score were made by Klaassen, De Sa, Arica and Kip, but the rookies weren’t successful in finding the goal. Anita can thus be crowned match winner in Flevoland.