Ajax has won its first friendly match on Saturday, 1-5 at RKC Waalwijk. Derk Boerrigter was on a roll, scoring three goals. Ruben Ligeon and Boban Lazic brought the team’s goal total to five. Thanks to the format of two matches in one day, coach Frank de Boer is able to let 22 players play for an hour. And with two weeks left until the start of the new season, this was a definite advantage.
Upon Ajax’s arrival in Mandemakers Stadium, Toby Alderweireld’s popularity quickly became apparent. Fans speaking with a soft ‘g’ accent and dressed in Ajax kit chanted his name, with many begging him to stay with the club for one more year. And when the Belgian, playing his first minutes of the pre-season, defended on a play by Jean-David Beauguel in the fifth minute to loud applause, it wasn’t completely clear what the fans appreciated more: Alderweireld’s play, or the RKC players’ moves. It was only when Robert Braber scored the 1-1 goal in the nineteenth minute that it became clear that most of the stadium was rooting for the yellow-and-blue clad home team.
The 1-1 followed two minutes after the opening goal was scored by Derk Boerrigter, who played in Waalwijk from 2009 to 2011. Ajax’s left winger clearly still felt at home on the Brabant grass, as he proved in the 21st minute when he simply played the ball under keeper Arjan van Dijk, 1-2. Soon after, Boerrigter made a great pass, but Tobias Sana was just offside at the last kick, thus disqualifying the goal. Boerrigter did it himself in the 28th minute – although the keeper had not been unhindered – 1-3. “You’re only as good as your last game”, says Boerrigter. “But it’s been a long time since I scored three goals.”
Compared to the duel against Dynamo Dresden, coach Frank de Boer made five changes to the starting line-up in Waalwijk: Alderweireld instead of Veltman, Denswil instead of Moisander, Klaassen instead of De Jong, Hoesen instead of Sigthórsson and Sana instead of Fischer. All of these ‘benched’ players are meant to play in Doetinchem that same evening. The five fresh forces in Waalwijk were joined by Kenneth Vermeer, Ruben Ligeon, Nicolai Boilesen, captain Christian Poulsen, Christian Eriksen and Derk Boerrigter
At the break, Ajax was in the lead, 1-4, thanks to a goal by right back Ligeon, and Alderweireld and Klaassen were substituted. And the reason was clear at the start of the second half. Mike van der Hoorn, making his debut, and Riechedly Bazoer took their places. Alderweireld hadn’t played previously and De Boer uses a 45, 60, 90 minute build-up. And in the sixtieth minute, the previously announced wave of substitutions occurred. The eight players who had been on the field from the start were substituted. Only keeper Kenneth Vermeer remained, and took over the captain’s band from Christian Poulsen.
It was a nice half hour for Boban Lazic. The left winger scored a beautiful goal in the 78th minutes, making it 1-5 for Ajax. Bojan Krkic, in his unofficial debut match, shot over the goal on a free kick. The score remained as it was. De Boer was satisfied: “We had agreed beforehand that’s we’d go full speed ahead for the first hour. That is just what happened. It’s nice for the guys who played for the last half hour, and for the ones playing in Ajax 1 for the first time. They were nervous but played decently.”
Almost all of the players who saw action during the last half hour in Waalwijk left for Doetinchem after the match. The same formula will be repeated there. De Boer and his staff drove in cars soon after the match towards the east of the country.
After the match, Toby Alderweireld gave the fans even more reasons to love him. “I don’t want to leave Ajax. I’m happy here and wouldn’t mind staying. I’m going to wait and see.”