Almost fifteen hours after Ajax had assembled at the Amsterdam Arena to leave for Portugal, the side from Amsterdam walked off the pitch victoriously. Soon after arriving in Faro Ajax had to take on German team Wolfsburg. Using 18 players, Ajax won 1-0 on their first day of training camp.
,,I would rather have started against a not so strong side", Koeman said. ,,But because the friendly against amateur club Zuidvogels was cancelled, this was the first. It was also my intention to play everyone for 45 minutes. Due to injuries that was not possible."
Jelle van Damme, on two different positions, Wesley Sneijder, Ovidiu Petre and Bogdan Lobont were on the pitch for 90 minutes. Sneijder was one of the players who made their debut for Ajax. koeman was satisfied with his perfoermance, but the coach knows that the youngster still has a lot to learn. ,,That's why I called him up tothe first team. He deserved to be promoted, together with Seedorf. In the summer I thought it would be a good idea to let them, and Nigel de Jong, play in Ajax 2 after coming out of the juniors. They improved rapidly and because Van Halst and Winter are no longer with the team, you can say we are renewing the squad."
Beside the players from Ajax's youth system, the two Romanian interns saw action in the first match. Ovidiu Petre for 90 minutes, Vlad Munteanu one half. ,,It is way too soon to judge them now", Koeman said afterwards. ,,That's will be possible after a week here in Portugal. They are talented, we knew that already. Now they have to prove that they are better than the players we have."
Munteanu laid the foundation for the winning goal. The Romanian's cross was exactly on the right height to help Wamberto head the ball in the nets.
Except the goal from the seldom-used Brazilian, not much was worth mentioning. The teams did not create many chances, although Pienaar and Seedorf could have widened the margin soner. However, Seedorf just missed from an excellent position.
It was good to see that the pace picked up with Nikos Machlas in an important role in the second half. Together with Wamberto and Seedorf he let the ball go around, where their colleagues failed to do so in the first half. That is why Koeman was more satisfied with the second half tha with the first. Koeman: ,,Both teams tried to win. Wolfsburg was better in the first half, we were better in the second half. We were a bit more fortunate than they were."
Machlas saw some first team action because Zlatan was rested. Just as Galasek, Chivu, Witschge and Mendes da Silva looked on from the stands. They were joined there by Jan van Halst, their former teammate who is in training camp with Vitesse in the same area. Litmanen Achilles tendon and Van der Vaart have more serious injuries. It is surprising that Koeman decided to take Van der Vaart on the trip, although he is sidelined for five weeks. ,,It is good for him to be with the group. He's had to deal with a number of disappointments. He can sit home and be miserable, or be here. Then I'd rather have him here."
Ajax train twice on Thursday and Friday. The second and last match for the Algarve Winter Cup is on Saturday. Ajax then face Aberdeen, who lost 2-0 to Wolfsburg earlier this week.