‘Happy with point, not with play’

‘Happy with point, not with play’

Frank de Boer looked back extensively, and critically, on Ajax’s tie with PEC Zwolle: 1-1. The coach was happy with the late tying goal by Kolbeinn Sightórsson, but had lots to say about his team’s play.

Frank de Boer’s first thoughts on the team’s performance spoke volumes: “I’m very happy with the point. But I’m not happy with the way we played.” And, so soon after the match in the Ijsseldata Stadium, the Ajax coach couldn’t reach any other conclusion. For a long time, the Zwolle team seemed set to win the match 1-0. Substitute Kolbeinn Sigthórsson helped the visitors to a draw in the 89th minute.

“The first half was compelling for the crowd”, said De Boer, diving into a recap of the competition match. “Zwolle came out from this pressure nicely. And with that, we crumbled a bit. PEC actually had no great opportunities. But we had 6 or maybe 7 good ones, in which we could have ended up alone in front of the keeper. With this transition that we’ve been practicing for weeks, we did well. Now it’s all about the finish.”

Things simply didn’t go Ajax’s way at the critical moments. PEC keeper Warner Hahn had much less to fear from the Amsterdam team than De Boer had hoped.

“After the break, we got egg on our face”, continued De Boer. Jesper Drost scored a beautiful goal to give PEC the 1-0 lead. The manner in which the opening goal came to be was perhaps the most annoying for the Ajax coach. The ball was thrown in, after which Drost, after two passes, appeared before Cillessen and scored. De Boer: “That should never be allowed to happen. After that, Zwolle had many opportunities to lock up the game.”

With substitutes Sigthórsson and – especially – Mike van der Hoorn, Ajax shifted gears to the emergency scenario. The super subs would, it was hoped, bring the Amsterdam team to the much-desired tying goal. “The ball needed to land well. And fortunately, that is what happened”, decided De Boer. “That’s why I’m happy with one point. Especially since we struck so late.”