Danny Blind won his first match with Ajax 1 on Thursday. Willem II were defeated 2-0 in the Amsterdam ArenA. Ajax played well occasionally, mainly in the first half, but the team was too careless when finishing the chances. Nicolae Mitea made it 1-0 after 20 minutes, but Blind had to wait until the final minutes to be sure of three points. Babel made it 2-0 in the 90th minute.
Danny Blind's hard work of the past weeks seemed to pay off on Thursday. During the training sessions the most attention was given to the wing players: Nicolae Mitea and Mauro Rosales were repeatedly taken aside by mainly assistant coach Gerard van der Lem, who explained was what expected of them on the touchlines. And with good result. Rosales delivererd a number of fine crosses from the right. One of them found Mitea after 20 minutes and the little Romanian headed it behind goalkeeper Moens: 1-0
After a dificult opening stage of the match, Ajax got better and better. Willem II did hardly resist, only former Ajax player Kevin Bobson had a small opportunity in the first 45 minutes. Hatem Trabelsi and Hedwiges Maduro should have given Ajax a bigger lead, but the Ajax players were not sharp before the goal of Moens. Blind: ,,We forgot to make the redeeming 2-0 that this team needs. A 1-0 lead is not enough for this team to calmly play out the match.''
Therefore, Willem II stayed in the match somehow, without creating any real chances, even though Ajax sometimes were careless in the back. The home team kept attacking, but to no avail. Blind had to make some changes fifteen minutes before time, when Rosales suffered an ankle injury and he was replaced by Nourdin Boukhari, who went on to play on the left wing and Mitea moved to the right. Steven Pienaar, who played his 100th match for Ajax, went off and was replaced with Maxwell, who was benched for being in the stadium too late. Both substitutes showed the fans a nice combination on the left, but again the goaltending was careless. Eventually, Ryan Babel made it 2-0 a few minutes before the end when he headed in a free kick by Wesley Sneijder.
,,I have seen good things and bad things tonight'', Blind said after the match. ,,One of the good things was the play of Hedwiges Maduro.'' The midfielder played a strong match and was voted man of the match. ,,This is the Maduro like I know him from the youth teams. He has made a lot of progression the last few years. He is very stable, very social and he knows what he can and cannot do. And that is very important nowadays to be successful. He has good control over what he does and brings a steadying influence in midfield.''
Blind also showed his displeasure at times. ,,The last pass was no good too often. And we should find simpler solutions to certain situations. Yet the coach will be releived after the win. Before the match, he had indicated that a victory would boost his players' confidence. And a well-deserved victory it was.