On Friday afternoon’s well-attended press conference in Qatar, Frank de Boer discussed the training camp and the second half of the season. The coach is satisfied with his selection’s performance in Qatar and hopes to defeat Schalke 04 in Saturday’s friendly as the ‘cherry on the cake’.
The match against Schalke 04 in the Suheim Bin Hamad Stadium will close the training camp in Qatar. The selection trained on Saturday morning, and at 15:30 Dutch time, kick-off against Klaas-Jan Hunterlaar’s team will take place. “It will be tough”, said Frank de Boer in the beautiful lobby of The Torch hotel. “Especially as they play 5-3-2. That’s a system that you need to play against a few times, it’s a counter strategy. But it’s a great challenge against a fantastic opponent. I want to show the guys that we had a great week, I’m hoping for this to be the cherry on the cake, a good stepping stone leading up to the Groningen match.”
It won’t be a match with many substitutions for Ajax. De Boer is starting with his go-to team. The squad consists of: : Cillessen, Van Rhijn, Veltman, Moisander, Riedewald, Klaassen, Serero, Andersen, Schöne, Milik en Kishna. “The intention is to let all of the starting guys play 90 minutes.”
Talents Abdelhak Nouri and Donny van de Beek will not see action against Schalke. De Boer isn’t only looking at the youngest talents, but also at the ones who have been in the rotation for longer. “Riechedly Bazoer will be on the bench against Schalke. He’s made a good impression during this training camp. Trustworthy, mature, both on and off the field. Last year he would be standing all over the field, but that’s not possible if you have a central role. Bazoer is really coming up. He’s a very big talent.”
Nouri and Van de Beek have also impressed the coach. “Impeccable”, he says of their performance in Qatar. “There is a difference in terms of strength, and maybe their pace needs to increase, but it’s clear in every way that they are top talents. They’ve adapted quickly.” One more talent with whom De Boer is satisfied is Robert Muric. “Finally I saw it: the guy is making progress. He plays with gusto, and dares to make plays, he’s smart and getting stronger.” His Dutch needs to improve, however. “That’s a problem. He says ‘yes’, but I’m not sure if he understands.”