‘Eliminate Vitesse in Cup’

‘Eliminate Vitesse in Cup’

The ten-place difference in the Eredivisie rankings is anything but a guarantee for an easy evening for Ajax in the cup duel against Vitesse. Frank de Boer emphasized as much in the pre-game press conference for the round of sixteen match of the KNVB Cup. “Vitesse is currently playing under its level and is doing badly”, says the coach. The championship is out of their reach. The only prize left for them is the cup. We need to ensure that Vitesse also is eliminated there.”

Despite lesser performances, Vitesse is a dangerous opponent, says De Boer. “They’re a good team. If you’re not concentrated or aggressive enough, you can just get eliminated.”

Ajax’s coach can also name Vitesse’s weaknesses. “They’re inconsistent. Not only between games, but within the games themselves. They’ve done well in twenty minute chunks and then they suddenly get worse. That is probably due to a lack of concentration. I can’t explain it otherwise.”

Vitesse’s inconsistency was clearly seen in Ajax and Vitesse’s first meeting of this season. In the first competition match, Vitesse opened strongly, but fell back after the break. Ajax eventually won, 4-1. “We had a tough time in the first half. After the break, that wasn’t the case.”

At the closing training, Ajax consciously played an eleven on eleven scrimmage. “That was mostly about applying pressure. Vitesse is a team that likes to play itself out from under pressure, then you need to make sure that they make mistakes.”

De Boer says he attaches quite a lot of value to the KNVB Cup, the only prize in the Netherlands that has eluded him as a coach so far. “Winning the championship is the most important. But the cup is a prize, too. I’ve been in the finals in the Kuip twice, so I’ve been close. Now it’s about time I won it.”

Ajax will close the first half of the season on Sunday with a game against Excelsior. Although the competition has priority, De Boer is sending in his best line-up against Vitesse. “I think that our players are physically strong enough to play two games in four days. In the past few years, we’ve shown that we have a fit selection. I’m certainly not going to spare any players.”

De Boer is clear about the goal of his last two matches of the calendar year: to win them both. In that case, the team can look back with satisfaction on 2014. “If that doesn’t happen, then it would definitely be a downer. If it does, then we’ll have won more points in the competition than at the same point last year, we’ll still be in the cup tournament and we’ll have made the Europa League after being in a pool with Barcelona and PSG. You can be happy with that, although I would have likes to come back to Champions League after the winter break.”