Ajax ends season with a draw

Ajax ends season with a draw

The season’s over. Before heading off for their well-earned holidays, Frank de Boer’s Ajax team ended their last friendly game of the Ajax Indonesia Tour 2014 with a draw. In the lively Jalak Harupat Stadium, Persib Bandung held their guests to a 1-1 score. Christian Poulsen played his last match with Ajax.

Ajax traded worldly Jakarta for the region of Bandung on Wednesday. After a three hour bus ride, the Ajax players received a warm welcome in Bandung. Smiling faces and waving Indonesians were everywhere. The Ajax players even received friendly applause as they entered the Jalak Harupat Stadium. This was the prelude to a last football match of 2013-2014, which was anything but boring. The friendly match against Persib Bandung was also sprinkled with a big of fatigue. Christian Poulsen played his last minutes with Ajax in Bandung. The Dane leaves Ajax after two great years.

In contrast to the departing veteran, several up and coming young talents played in this match, just like against Persija. Mickey van der Hart was in the goal. The keeping talent saw Kenny Tete (left) and Ruben Ligeon (right) as wing backs in front of him. Riechedly Bazoer, who had just turned 17, was the youngest, playing midfield, and forward Sheraldo Becker was given the chance to show his coach what he can do as right winger.

The Ajax players succeeded in playing convincingly for only part of this last match of ’13-’14. Siem de Jong had a narrow opportunity in the beginning. The captain was served perfectly by Becker, but he missed. Fifteen minutes later, Stefano Denswil scored. The central defender scored with a header from a Lerin Duarte corner, passing Made Wirawan: 0-1. Ajax seemed comfortable with the early lead, but one minute later a rude awakening came in the form of a near goal against. Djibril Coulibaly rounded off but found Van der Hart in his way. This was just the beginning.

Duarte almost helped his team to a more comfortable lead shortly before the break. The midfielder, who played as a wing forward later in the game, sent his free kick just wide. Duarte was also unsuccessful with his header. All of these missed opportunities ended up costing Ajax. Shortly before the break, Maxan Konate brought the goal-hungry home crowd to its feet. After a long rush, he first trumped Ruben Ligeon (the right back sustained an injury afterwards), after which Van der Hart was helpless to stop the hard shot. The goal was celebrated by everyone with a blue Persib club heart as if it were the championship. Even a goal against would not have dampened the heart-warming Indonesian celebration.

Frank de Boer brought in fresh reinforcements right after halftime. Some of the remaining players were assigned new positions. Thulani Serero came in for Siem de Jong. Poulsen took over the captain’s band for his final game. Jairo Riedewald came in for the injured Ligeon. The Ajax players escaped a handful of dangerous attacks and opponent scoring opportunities, but seemed to regain their composure in the last half hour of play. For the ‘Vikings’, the nickname of Persib fans and players, it didn’t make a difference. The home club’s fans continued to sing and cheer loudly and enthusiastically, supporting their team unconditionally. This gave the hard-working home team the stamina to continue. Persib exchanged mediocre and sloppy moments with an inexhaustible dose to fighting spirit. The Vikings on the field were literally pushed on by the Vikings around them.

Ajax, and Van der Hart in particular, needed to pull out all the stops in order to avoid another goal against in the closing minutes. A furious attack by Ahmad Jufrianto was well saved by an alert keeper. Thus a loss was avoided. This Ajax season, that of the 33rd championship in club history, was closed with a heavily fought tie. Saying farewell with a loss would have been bitter for Christian Poulsen. After thanking the Ajax fans in the stadium, and throwing his jersey into the crowd for the last time, Poulsen disappeared into the catacombs.

“Persib played with a vision, more than Persija did in our first match. I compliment them for that”, said Frank de Boer during his last ruang konfrasi pers (press conference) of the Ajax Indonesia Tour 2014. “Persib created more opportunities and played very well. Persib showed that there is a lot of potential in the football area. That’s a great challenge for the future. Considering the match, the 1-1 tie is a nice result.”