During the press conference prior to Ajax – FC Utrecht, the centre forward discussion (once again) took centre stage. Kasper Dolberg has a solid competitor in Klaas Jan Huntelaar, who has been the starting striker for the past few weeks. Coach Marcel Keizer is clear about the situation: “Huntelaar and Dolberg will be competing for the centre forward position for the whole season.”
Who is Ajax’s first striker? “That’s difficult to say”,according to Keizer. “Klaas has been on the squad for several games and had done well. Kasper has been struggling, but he’s on his way back.”
Dolberg on left flank
For the away game at Willem II, both Huntelaar and Dolberg were at kick-off. The latter was filling in for the injured Amin Younes on the left flank. Despite the fact that Dolberg played in his position often during his years in youth teams, it wasn’t a resounding success in Tilburg, emphasizes Keizer. “We went with both Kasper and Klaas because Willem II was playing with 5 defenders. It didn’t work out as well as we would have liked. That doesn’t mean that we won’t try it again, though.”
When Huntelaar arrived in Amsterdam last summer, the message was clear: Dolberg was the 1st centre forward. “Huntelaar knows that previous agreements had been made”, says Keizer. “He’s now seizing his opportunity and is important for the team. Klaas is super professional. Many of the guys appreciate that.”
During the second to last training before the game against FC Utrecht, the centre forwards were individually trained by Dennis Bergkamp. Huntelaar was first, then Dolberg got his chance to train against keeper Kostas Lamprou.
Keizer is evasive about which player will be at centre forward for the game against FC Utrecht. But the coach is clear on the opponent’s strengths. “FC Utrecht always plays according to a specific play, they’re very organized. In addition to that, Ajax – FC Utrecht is a game which always has something extra.”