“Let’s aim to grow in the tournament”, said Frank Peereboom. The coach saw the Ajax Under 17s experience a difficult start in the ABN Amro Future Cup. The opening match against Ghana’s Right to Dream ended in a 0-0 stalemate. “We didn’t do enough, against a tough opponent, no less.”
But Peereboom isn’t concerned yet. “This has happened to us before this way, for example in previous years”, said the coach. “Somehow, we always have a hard start. Maybe it’s the excitement. It was all a bit restless.”
Ajax U17 thus experienced some start-up issues. The Ajacieds had a tough time getting into the match rhythm and only created one good opportunity in the first half. Anderson Lopez was unable to make good on a taylor-made assist from Ché Nunnely.
Nunnely was Ajax’s most outstanding playing of the first half. The wing forward flitted past his direct opponent several times in a row. Clinton Antwi, Right to Dream’s captain, was able to recover from this difficult period.
Right to Dream was the more dangerous team in the first half. Tiemoko Fonfana should have opened the score right after the break, but was unable to crown his free passage towards goalie Nigel Bouman with a goal. Ajax breathed a sigh of relief when an African goal was disqualified.
Peereboom’s displeasure with the match was made clear with his three substitutions in rapid succession. Daishwan Redan came right after the break, and Deabas Owusu Sekyere and Raya el Azrak came in midway through the second half. This seemed to produce some effect, and Ajax seemed more and more poised to take the lead. Jurgen Ekkelenkamp saw his measured shot hit the post.
In the closing minutes, the play swung this way and that. Right to Dream had the upper hand for a while, but it was all Ajax in the last few minutes. But no goal.
Peereboom saw some merit in his opponent. “They’re quite proficient technically, and in good shape physically. They’re really an African team. You can see that they could become very dangerous.”
The coach didn’t think that the team’s difficulties had anything to do with the surroundings. An impressive tribute to Johan Cruijff had preceded the match. “We discussed this together yesterday evening. The guys know that the focus and excitement is due to the tournament.”
Ajax U17: Bouman, Ter Heide, Hoogenhout, Bakker, Familia Castillo, Ekkelenkamp, Antonucci (41. El Azrak), Lang, Nunnely, Kaars (41. Owusu Sekyere), Lopez (31. Redan)