Ajax win Alfred Berg Cup

Ajax have won the friendly match against Djurgardens IF, for the the Alfred Berg Cup organised by head sponsor ABN AMRO and Scandinavian partner Alfred Berg Bank, by 5-0. Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who came 'home' and in Scandinavia very popular Jari Litmanen, provided the highlights in the match in the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm.

Coach Ronald Koeman said it best after the match: ,,You can say it was only a friendly, but if you're Ajax, you are always expected to win and play well. There are really no friendly matches for us.'' Zlatan Ibrahimovic noticed. The striker, normally worshipped in his home country, was the subject of boos and whistles by the fans of the team that hope to win the Swedish title on Sunday, every time he came near the ball. No undivided pleasure then, Ibrahimovic's homecoming; but he laughed last by scoring the first two goals for Ajax, who as an exception did not play in their shirt with the name of sponsor ABN AMRO but a specially prepared adidas strip with Afred Berg on it. Ibrahimovic spun away from his defender in the 32nd minute and struck in the low left corner. Near the end of the first half he stole the ball from a Djurgardens defender and slid it past the goalkeeper for 0-2. ,,I was already motivated because the match was in my home land'', said the Swede who was Ajax's one-time captain in the first half. ,,But it was a great match and the crowd's reaction only helped to inspire me further. I got my revenge by my performance and those two goals.''

The match, organised by ABN AMRO and Alfred Berg and of which part of the proceeds went to Warchild, also meant the return of Jari Litmanen. The Finn, who received a standing ovation when he came on in the 73rd minute, played his last match for Ajax on August 6. A chronic achilles-tendon injury kept him sidelined for more than two months. But he showed that he has lost litlle or nothing from his class. About five minutes after he came on, Litmanen found Michael Krohn-Dehli with a superb lob. The Dane, who normally plays for Ajax 2, was fouled in the box. Litmanen put away the spot kick for 0-3. ,,It felt good to get some minutes after such a long spell'', said Litmanen. ,,It's going better, but I still have a long way to go.''

Although the home side had some good chances in the second half, only to find Sander Boscher on the way, it was Ajax who kept on scoring. In the 82nd minute Tom Soetaers set up Jelle van Damme for 0-4 and three minutes from the end Wesley Sneijder touched it through to Soetaers, who after a short solo provided Anthony Obodai with a good cross: 0-5. ,,I am proud of the lads'', said Koeman afterwards. ,,It was an open match and both teams have a busy schedule. The difference is that Ajax have a broader squad. Guys who normally do not see much playing time proved tonight that they can play very good football as well.''

After the match Ajax received the Alfred Berg Cup from Hugh Scott-Barrett, member of the Board of ABN AMRO. Both teams attended a special party afterwards for guests of ABN AMRO and Alfred Berg Bank. The match was organised because of the ever closer collaboration of Alfred Berg and ABN AMRO in Scandinavia.