Ajax B1 convincingly qualified for the semi-finals of the AEGON Future Cup, soundly defeating China U-17 (4-0) and FC Barcelona (2-0). Ajax plays the semi finals on Easter Monday, against AC Milan at the Toekomst Sports Complex.
Day 2 of the AEGON Future Cup brought some surprises. Both Liverpool and Barcelona have been eliminated after the group phase. Neither team from pool A – host Ajax’s pool – was strong enough for Ajax and China U-17. With nine points in three matches, Ajax was the group winner. The youth teams from the English and Spanish powerhouses will play in Monday’s consolation round.
After a narrow win against Liverpool on Saturday (1-0), Ajax gained confidence and winning momentum on Sunday. In the early afternoon, they defeated China U-17 4-0. After just ten minutes, coach Robin Pronk’s team had almost wrapped up the match thanks to quick goals from Youssef Fennich, Mitchell Dijks en Terell Ondaan. Rowendey Schoop scored the final goal during the second half: 4-0.
Both Davy Klaassen and Davi Lizardo saw the significant differences with China’s style of play after the match. “It’s clear that they play very differently”, observed Klaassen. “They don’t initiate many duels, and they are calmer. A big difference with the first match against Liverpool”. Coach Pronk saw the same differences. “China didn’t take much initiative, which is a big difference with the Dutch opponents that we meet during regular competition. They go for attacking football and robust duels.”
Thanks to the win, Ajax was assured of a semi final spot after two games. This wasn’t the case for Barcelona, who have had a disappointing tournament. After a tie with China on Saturday, and a 1-0 loss to Liverpool earlier on Sunday, former Barcelona forward Sergi’s team missed their last chance for second place. In fact, due to their 2-0 loss against Ajax, the Spanish team ended up in last place in pool A, and will play on Monday for either 7th or 8th place.
Barcelona, with Joshua Angoy Cruijff among its pupils, was forced to acknowledge Ajax’s superiority. The highlight of Ajax – Barcelona happened before the break, when Terell Ondaan scored a spectacular goal, a la Marco van Basten against FC Den Bosch. With a beautiful hustle – on a pass from captain Ouasim Bouy – he left the Spanish keeper without a chance. The full stands along the main field burst into cheering. The replays on the video screen behind the goal gave the spectators – and Ajax – the chance to enjoy the moment several more times.
In the second half, without Johan Cruijff’s substituted grandson, Ajax doubled the score thanks to substitute Rowendey Schoop. With a good shot, he determined the end score: 2-0. “Have I ever seen such a great goal?”, repeated Pronk afterwards, referring to Ondaan’s beautiful one. “I don’t think so – in any case, not in youth football”. Pronk was satisfied with the third win in a row, and his team’s clean sheet. After three matches, Ajax closed the pool phase with nine points in three matches, seven goals for, and none against. On Easter Monday, Ajax will meet AC Milan at 10.30, who ended in second place of pool B. “They will be a different kind of opponent. More catenaccio”, predicts Pronk. “And an Ajax – AC Milan semi finals is a great advertisement.”