The Amsterdam side hailed a 4-1 victory in the first match in Bulgaria. This comfortable win gives Ajax a fine head start towards reaching the group stage in the European competition. Steijn nevertheless pointed out some aspects which could or even have to improve for the home crowd.
"We played brilliantly in the first half. The second half less so. The last thing you need is to lose out on Thursday due to misplaced arrogance. Players have to focus 100%. So the difference last week between the first and second halves matters. We also let the squad know that, and showed them the stats to prove it. That difference is dangerous. Although Jay Gorter did pull off two or three important saves in the second half. But I think you should always give it all you've got. That was an important lesson for these players."
To start with, it's a different Ajax side that appeared in Razgrad for the first leg. Mohammed Kudus scored no fewer than three times against the Bulgarians last week, but the Ghanaian isn't around any more. Soon after that first qualifying game, Kudus switched to English team West Ham United. That hat-trick was therefore his impressive final curtain. Brian Brobbey scored as well; the striker will be useful in the ArenA on Thursday.
Building the team
The manager has spent the last few weeks building up the team quite a bit. Although Steijn also insisted that his focus obviously remains on the games and the team. Director of Football Sven Mislintat handles all the transfer business in discussion with the manager. "We'd prefer it if nine players were left from the familiar line-up, but we also now have the challenge of putting together a new team," added Steijn, commenting on recent events.
"I'm delighted some new lads are coming. Lads like Josip Šutalo will need little time to adjust. But I'm confident everyone will settle in quickly and comfortably. I've got the bigger picture in mind. But of course something might always come up in the squad as we go." Steven Berghuis was still ill the day before the match. The Ajax player was off sick with the flu, but Steijn expressed the hope that his player might still be able to join them Thursday.
Given a warm welcome
Rensch was also asked about the new signings in the Ajax squad. The defender was upbeat. "The new lads are making a great first impression. We gave the new lads a warm welcome straight away. They should soon feel at home."