The first league match under coach Henk ten Cate ended in a 5-0 victory against RKC Waalwijk. But the Ajax boss was not always pleased with what he had seen. ,,I am happy with the win, not with the way we played.'' Ten Cate knew that if Ajax would have stepped on the accelarator, the team could have grabbed first place in the league.
Ten Cate's burning ambition is to be praised. How many coaches would have been content with their team taking it a bit easier just days before an important qualifying match for the Champions League? Ten Cate is not one of them. The only time he thought about Wednesday was when he took off Gabri after an hour. The Spaniard also had a yellow card and knowing his 'Mediterranian temper' the coach thought it would be better to take off the midfielder who played a fine match.
It was not the first substitution. After a mere twenty seconds, Zdenek Grygera, who replaced the suspended Thomas Vermalen, pulled a hamstring and had to be replaced by George Ogararu. ,,That change gave us no problem'', said Ten Cate.
But Ajax did not get off to a good start. ,,We were too careless and the pace in midfield was too low”, said the coach. When Hedwiges Maduro showed some more offensive initiative, Ajax started to move better and in the 34th minute, Ryan Babel headed in the ball after a good cross by Mauro Rosales, who had tricked his defender Frank van Mosselveld. Just before the end of the first half, Ajax basically decided the one-sided match through a goal by Wesley Sneijder, who fired it in the low corner from some distance: 2-0.
RKC coach Adrie Koster did not blame his team much. He left all the credits to the home side. ,,Ajax were too good for us, so there's no disgrace in losing here today.”
John Heitinga made it 3-0 from up close in the 52nd minute and before 70 minutes had been played, Sneijder made it 4-0 from an assist by Klaas Jan Huntelaar. ,,After that, we should have pushed through”, said Ten Cate. ,,Then we could have taken first place.”
But his team, where Roger made his official debut, scored only once more. Mauro Rosales capped off his good match with Ajax's fifth. The 5-0 was not enough to help Ajax to first place. AZ defeated NAC, Ajax's next opponent in the league, 8-1.