Nicolai Boilesen will make his comeback for Ajax in Sunday’s Classic against Feyenoord, coach Frank de Boer announced during Friday’s press conference. “Yes, he’s playing on Sunday”, said Ajax’s coach. Boilesen has been out with a knee injury since the end of November.
As usual, the match between Ajax and Feyenoord is awaited with much anticipation. Ajax has come out the winner quite often in the past few years. De Boer was cautious when it came to the Rotterdam team. “They have a good team with several players who can make the difference. They’re just doing well. They proved that to us in the away match, during which we weren’t able to do very much.” Despite that, Ajax had celebrated an early Ricardo van Rhijn goal.
Ajax has been business-like several times this season. Last week’s match against FC Groningen (2-0) featured rather unspectacular play. De Boer wasn’t that impressed with competitors PSV and Feyenoord, either. “We played well in the first 25 minutes, and then very badly. But Feyenoord didn’t do that well against Twente, either. I think that all three teams aren’t playing their best right now. We can all do better, and we need to.”
During the packed press conference, the topic of the fire at the supporters’ home arose. The house went up in flames on Friday morning. The cause is not yet determined. De Boer was concerned about the impact for the fans. “The supporters’ home has emotional value for the supporters. A large community went there before and after the matches. Where will they go now? It’s not really the weather for them to stand around outside.”
De Boer was happy to see some nice initiatives on Twitter to get a new supporters’ home started. For example, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar donated Ajax and Schalke 04 jerseys and called on several former Ajax team mates to do the same. “I’m very happy with Huntelaar’s reaction. A nice gesture, and it’s great that people are taking initiative right away. I hope that some more former players participate. And if I find a jersey at home, I’ll donate it as well.” De Boer expressed the desire that his players take away the positive from this. “I hope this gives us even more energy.”
Ajax may need to face Feyenoord without Davy Klaassen. The midfielder left Friday’s training early. De Boer wouldn’t give anything away about Klaassen’s condition, but says that he has several alternatives. The coach named Riechedly Bazoer, Niki Zimling and Lasse Schöne as potential replacements. "We have some options. Davy has become an important player. If he can’t play, the other guys will need to step up.”
The duel features Kenneth Vermeer’s return to the ArenA. After years with Ajax, the keeper left for Feyenoord this summer. De Boer: “Kenneth has always behaved in an exemplary way and always given three hundred per cent. He contributed to our success. I hope that he’ll be supported, but on the other hand I realize that it may be difficult.”
Ajax is enjoying an eight point lead against Feyenoord and seems poised to eliminate this rival from the race for the title. Although De Boer sees this differently. “It’s going to be tough, with two teams way ahead of us. But we’ve proven that it’s possible. Although frankly I’d rather not be in this position.” De Boer: “It’s key for us to post a good result here. We don’t want our competitors for the title to gain ground and we don’t want to suffer more damage against PSV.”