‘The Ajax youth have the future’, is written on the second tier of the Amsterdam ArenA. Wat is meant by that, was shown in the home match against Roda JC (4-2).
That Adrie Koster also sees a future in the Ajax youth, could be seen in his choices for the starting lineup. Home-grown talents such as Siem de Jong and Gregory van der Wiel have made their presence known in Ajax 1. Players like Jan Vertonghen and Robbert Schilder played on youth complex De Toekomst ('The Future') just a little longer ago. And going back some more, there are Hedwiges Maduro, John Heitinga and Maarten Stekelenburg, who all three have made the successful transition from the youth academy to fully-fledged players in Ajax 1.
The sum of the parts paints a pretty picture. Of the eleven Ajax players to start the match against Roda JC, seven completed the youth program on De Toekomst. The imported Ajax players around them, added extra quality to the team. Three of them (forwards Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Luis Suarez and Albert Luque) put the ball in the Roda goal. Defender George Ogararu proved his worth with rushes and offensive impulses on the right flank. The Romanian provided the perfect cross for Huntelaar's header that gave Ajax the 1-0 lead after 22 minutes.
It marked the unofficial start of a spectacular and entertaining match with many goals. Ajax - Roda JC was a game in which both teams dared to take risks. The 48,621 spectators were rewarded with a great match.
Shortly after Roland Lamah's equalizer, Suarez gave his team the lead once more. The Uruguyan forward converted a cross by Luque, who himself made it 3-1 right after halftime. Ajax did not surrender their new lead again. Roda JC did come back to 3-2 (goal by Anouar Hadouir), after which substitute Dennis Rommedahl decided the match for good in added time. Huntelaar let an opportunity to do so earlier go to waste, when he fired a penalty high over the Roda goal after Suarez had been brought down.
,,We had plenty of opportunities to decide the match earlier’’, Koster said. ,,It was close for a while. Roda refused to go away. But in the ArenA we want to take the initiative. And I think we did. This group is hungry for success.’’
First-timer Jan-Arie van der Heijden also had his share in the solid win. The midfielder came on for Schilder after 66 minutes and proved himself a worthy exponent of the youth program. He provided the cross from which Dennis Rommedahl made it 4-2.
With the home victory against Roda, Ajax regained tghe lead in the league table. Number two Feyenoord have the same amount of points, but Ajax have a much better goal difference. PSV dropped to third after a loss at Heerenveen.
Next week's Feyenoord - Ajax therefore, becomes the a match for the top position in Holland. The Ajax youth seem ready, willing and able to defend the club's honour in the Classic.