Ronald Koeman won't decide until Saturday whether he will play Zlatan against RBC. The Swedish striker is still bothered by a hamstring injury. Victor Sikora has suffered a setback, so Koeman is forced to bring Jamal Akachar in the squad for now. ,,The match against RBC will not be an easy one", the coach predicted on Friday. ,,Earlier matches right before a Champions League game have proven that."
Friday was the first day that Koeman had all his international players back together. ,,That is always a problem. It works better if you can prepare from Sunday to Sunday.''
Koeman hopes his squad will be mentally ready for the league match against lowly RBC. ,,It could be an easy game for us if we start well and score quickly."
Just exactly who has to provide the firepower, is still unknown. Koeman won't decide about Zlatan Ibrahimovic's ability to play on Saturday morning. If he cannot play, Rafael van der Vaart will - acording to Friday's training session - play as the team's most forward attacker. ,,I'm not about to take silly risks with players. And I will not spare a player in the league. If Zlatan is fit tomorrow, he will play. Finishing at least second in Holland still has our top priority'', Koeman said.
Koeman is certain that he will have to play without Chivu and Trabelsi. Both defenders have been suspended. Nigel de Jong played at right back and Yakubu in the centre of defence in training.
Jari Litmanen is doing better and better. He will not be able to play in the next couple of games, but he is on his way to recovery. ,,Without being able to predict when Jari will return, it is nice that he can almost join the team", Koeman said on Friday.
Jamal Akachar is another player who is on the rise. The forward of Ajax's second team will be in the first team tomorrow. ,,He has developed well", Koeman explained his choice for the fomer taxi driver. ,,I hope he can help us. I was hoping initially that it would be Sikora, who would make it back into the group, but he has suffered a setback since he got hit in Rome. Akachar is not a deep striker, but he can play up front or behind the strikers."
Whether he will actually see action in the first team, remains to be seen. But fact is that Akachar's rise is remarkable. He started the season in Ajax's amateur team, was promoted to Ajax 2 when that team was short on players and now he joins the A-squad due to lack of forwards in the side.
Andy van der Meyde is, like Wesley Sneijder, healthy again. Both Ajax players had to miss recent matches with Holland due to injuries. Van der Meyde is suspended for the Champions League match against AC Milan on Tuesday.