Ajax has won its first practice match of the season. In Putten, Gelderland, the national champions were too strong for SDC Putten, defeating them 1-4. Dejan Meleg, Davy Klaassen, Nicolai Boilesen and Jody Lukoki scored the first Ajax goals of the 2013-2014 season.
At the ‘Wembley of the Veluwe’, as Sports Park Putter Eng is called in the program booklet, Ajax took the lead after 18 minutes of play. Dejan Meleg crowned his unofficial debut with a special goal. From a corner, the Serbian player curved the ball in one move behind the Putten keeper.
Ten minutes after Meleg’s goal, the home team surprisingly tied the game. . Daniël van Schoor was Putten’s most celebrated player for a few moments. The forward passed Ajax keeper Jasper Cillessen, assuring the home team’s tying goal before the break. That goal was quickly followed by another Ajax goal. Four minutes after the tying goal, Davy Klaassen (on a pass from Tobias Sana) sent the ball into the Putten goal: 1-2. Ajax’s previous mistake in its own zone was thus neutralized.
Under the watchful eyes of 4.500 spectators, Nicolai Boilesen expanded Ajax’s lead right at the break. The Dane seemed fresh and hungry after being sidelined for a long time last season due to a hamstring injury. The same was true of Klaassen, who, just like Boilesen, doesn’t have many fond memories of last season. He was also sidelined due to a long lasting groin injury. For them, the new season couldn’t come soon enough. Quite literally in this case, as both players started to prepare, on their own initiative, before the pre-season.
After the break, a completely new and (even) younger Ajax team took to the field. Unofficial debuts from Riechedly Bazoer (16) and Kenny Tete (17) brought down the team’s average age, in which names such as Dico Koppers (captain), Sven Nieuwpoort, Joeri de Kamps and Gino van Kessel appeared. The host team was also able to draw on a large arsenal of players, as seven new names came onto the field at the second half’s kick-off.
The many changes didn’t improve the match much. Very little happened in the second 45 minutes, during which ‘Jong Ajax’ scored once. Jody Lukoki made good fifteen minutes before time, bringing the final score to 1-4.
After the game, the focus split between the return of Boilesen and Klaassen, as well as the young players who had made their debut. Frank de Boer: “If you look at a picture of Boilesen from eighteen months ago and compare it to a picture of him today, you’d see a totally different guy. He’s maybe been out for a long time, but during his recovery, he’s really matured physically.”
About Bazoer, who made his debut, De Boer said: “He played very maturely. Especially when you realize that he’s only 16 years old.” Ajax’s coach was also positive about right winger Meleg. “But he’s still very young. Dejan is only a first year senior. But he made a good impression today.”
Ajax leaves on Monday with a selection of 20 players and 3 keepers for Austria for a training camp. The Amsterdam team will be in Stubaital, near Innsbruck, for just over a week. The internationals will join the group on Monday. Only Daley Blind and Ricardo van Rhijn will enjoy holidays for an extra week, due to the youth European Championships.
Watch a summary later on Ajax TV of SDC Putten – Ajax, including reactions from coach Frank de Boer and several players.