The new season could hardly have started better for Ajax. Martin Jol's team, playing with a fortified midfield, convincingly won at FC Groningen: 0-2.
The biggest surprise in Jol's lineup was not that Maarten Stekelenburg was on goal instead of Kenneth Vermeer. Nor was it Toby Alderweireld starting or Demy de Zeeuw making his debut. No, it was Martin Jol surprising everybody by leaving Ismaïl Aissati on the bench. The ‘firmer’ Eyong Enoh took his place against Groningen. ,,Enoh has a certain strength”, said Jol. ,,And he wins some balls. Aissati is more offensive-minded.”
The fortifeid midfield not only surprised press and spectators, Ron Jans was also taken aback. ,,We also thought Aissati would play”, the Groningen coach said.
Both sides played a little tentatively in the first half hour, but then Ajax came on strong. De Zeeuw took charge more and more and played a big part in Ajax taking over. ,,He was one of our better players'', Jol said about the latest signing. Miralem Sulejmani scored the first goal minutes before halftime. Luis Suarez fired, goalkeeper Luciano could not clear the ball, after which it came to Dennis Rommedahl. The Dane touched it to Sulejmani, who struck: 0-1.
In the second half Ajax played even better. ,,We started playing the way Ajax are supposed to play”, Jol said. ,,We immediately had some good chances. That is really the only thing that could have gone better: we should have made that second goal earlier.” That goal came in the 72nd minute. Rommedahl, next to Enoh the other surprise in the lineup, was quick to react when Suarez crossed and from between two defenders and the goalkeeper he put the ball in the back of the net. ,,Rommedahl has quality”, Jol said. ,,In the preseason friendlies he kept scoring or giving assists. I hope he can keep this up.”
After he second goal, Ajax were on safe ground. Jol's team left the pitch with the first three points of the new season secured. In the first home game of the season, Ajax will host RKC Waalwijk on Saturday.