Ajax plays an important Champions League group phase match at home against Auxerre on Tuesday at 8.45p.m. Martin Jol and Urby Emanuelson look ahead to this face off against the French team.
Emanuelson- who played left back in Saturday’s 3-0 home win against NAC Breda – has a special bond with Auxerre. “It all started for me in Auxerre”, said the Ajax player during the press conference in the Amsterdam ArenA. Emanuelson made his Ajax 1 debut in 2005 against Auxerre. “That’s the reason why our away match especially will bring back memories”, continued the left footed player. “One day after my debut, the head coach (Ronald Koeman) resigned. That was the start of a turbulent period at Ajax. The club is stable now, more so that it has been for years.”
“Auxerre is a bit like Ajax”, said Jol, asked about the similarities between the clubs. “The club has a unique culture, their own development program, and stream a lot of players. Auxerre has its own style and has performed very well in the last year. It’s a good, solid team, with a few standouts. Auxerre has a well organised team, which reached Champions League through St Petersburg. Their low ranking in the competition isn’t representative of their quality.”
The French club hasn’t been performing as well this season. Last season’s top position has been swapped for a spot towards the bottom of the Ligue 1’s ranking. Emanuelson: “It’s tough for them right now. But I’m not sure if this is the best time to face Auxerre. We need to get three points on Tuesday. We’ve been hungry to participate in this tournament for a long time. Now that we’re here, we want to stay.”
Jol hopes his team will show Auxerre fireworks – football fireworks, that is. “Real fireworks are forbidden in the stadium. They also don’t go hand in hand with bringing in as much income as possible.”
The upcoming Champions League meeting’s timing is too soon for Siem de Jong (hamstring injury) and Vurnon Anita (calf). Thimothée Atouba is out of commission for the time being too. There’s a big chance that Emanuelson will get a spot on left defense. “With Vurnon’s injury, there aren’t many other options for left back”, continues Emanuelson. “Jan Vertonghen can play there too, but he’s too important on defence. I need to be there for the team, and I will be.” Emanuelson played a solid game against NAC Breda. Ajax made up somewhat for their home game loss against FC Utrecht. Emanuelson: “It was good to post a simple win after that loss at home.”
Jol will not make many changes to the line-up for this Champions League match. We’ll have to wait and see if the coach calls on André Ooijer, like he did last Saturday. Jol: “If Ooijer’s fit, I can use him. But the same goes for Oleguer. He’s a part of the story, too. We want to bring in as many points as possible in the Champions League. We’ll see what happens afterwards.”