Ajax has ended a disappointing season with a narrow loss in the hot conditions of Al Ain. The stakes of this game against the Egyptian champion Al-Ahly was the Champions Golden Cup. But the Amsterdam team wasn’t the winner of this cup. Al-Ahly was too strong, winning by 1-0.
Coach Erik ten Hag had somewhat taken account of next season with his starting line-up. Acquisition Perr Schuurs was on the squad at kick-off in the Hazza Bin Zayed stadium. Hakim Ziyech, Lasse Schöne and Nico Tagliafico didn’t make the trip to the United Arab Emirates. They can thus prepare for the football World Cup next month.
To the melody of the Dutch national anthem, Ajax was introduced to the crowd. After the Egyptian national anthem, captain Hossam Ghaly of Al-Ahly made his entrance. The midfielder was retiring from professional football and was put in the spotlights, and sung for. After that, the ball was kicked around to warm up.
Beautiful saves by Onana
Finally, Ajax kicked off at 18:25 in their new away jerseys, and, 4 minutes later, should have scored the 0-1 goal. Noussair Mazraoui had the chance, but shot wide. After that, the Egyptian team had the greatest opportunities, but with 2 beautiful saves by André Onana and a shot by Mahlambi which went over, the score remained 0-0.
The only good opportunity for Ajax was thanks to a good cross-pass by Donny van de Beek right before halftime. David Neres was unable to convert it.
In the second half, Norbert Alblas took over in the goal, Azor Matusiwa substituted for Donny van de Beek, and Hassane Bandé came in for Kluivert at left wing. Dani de Wit and Ten Bijleveld also made their debut. They were at the root of a beautiful attack in the 62nd minute, but the Egyptian keeper kept a clean goal.
Ten Hag made another switch. De Ligt and Dolberg went out; Luis Orejuela and Mateo Cassierra came in.
Goal or not?
De Wit seemed poised to bring Ajax to a 0-1 lead with his header, but his attempt hadn’t completely passed over the goal line, as the referee decided.
Shortly after, Ghaly took his definitive leave. He left the field, which lasted several minutes. Ajax also substituted again: Dennis Johnsen came in for Neres, and almost the entire Ajax Reserves team was on field in the final minutes.
Seven minutes before time, Al-Ahly took the lead. Salah Mohsen took off behind Schuurs’ back, took possession of the ball, and made good: 1-0. Ajax wasn’t able to erase its deficit in the remainder of the game.
The 2017-2018 season is done. Ajax will start preparations for next season in the middle of June. The first friendly game will be against VVSB on June 23.