Ajax faces Celtic in the ArenA on Saturday. The game against the Scottish champion starts at 7p.m. and is the only practice match that Ajax will play in front of its home crowd. The Scottish champion last came to the ArenA eleven years ago. At the time, Ajax lost 1-3 in that UEFA Champions League qualifying round match.
The last time that Ajax and Celtic met in an official match was at the start of the 2001-2002 season. On August 8, 2001, Ajax met the Scots in the third qualifying round of for the UEFA Champions League. Ajax went under in two games. The attacking strategy that then-coach Co Adriaanse had implemented for the home game played right into the Scots’ hands. After twenty minutes, the visiting team were ahead 0-2 thanks to goals from Dutch native Bobby Petta and Didier Agathe. Although Shota Arveladze scored shortly before the break, Chris Sutton brought the score to its final stand ten minutes after the break: 1-3. Another remarkable fact from that evening is that only two Dutch players were on the field at kick off: Fred Grim and Rafael van der Vaart.
For the return match in Glasgow two weeks later, Adriaanse chose for a defensive line-up instead. Keeper Grim had a five man defence in front of him in Celtic Park, consisting of Cristian Chivu, Hatem Trabelsi, Ferdi Vierklau, André Bergdolmo and Maxwell. Abubakari Yakubu and Van der Vaart played at midfield and the offense was made up of Arveladze – Nikos Machlas – Wamberto.
Although the latter opened the score after half an hour, there would be no miracle in Glasgow. Nonetheless, Ajax wiped away the embarrassment of their home loss with the 0-1 win. Celtic went on to the Champions League tournament, landing in a group with Juventus, FC Porto and Rosenborg BK.