Tonny Bruins Slot and Ruud Krol faced the difficult task of getting a good result in the always tough away match against Roda JC. The new coaching duo had only two days after Ronald Koeman's resignation to get everyone back on the same page. It worked, as Ajax defeated Roda in snowy Kerkrade by 2-1.
Krol and Bruins Slot had a surprise in the starting line up. Hedwiges Maduro made his debut in the Holland Casino Eredivisie with a place in the starting line up for the team from Amsterdam. Nigel de Jong played left back and Maxwell went to left midfield. ,,I looked for players who were a hundred per cent fit, Krol explained. ,,And I had a tactical plan in my head of Roda. I wanted us to play from the back and that is why Maduro played before the defence. The collective is what matters, that has to bring out the best. So it could very well be the case that the starting eleven will be different next week.''
Ajax dictated the match mainly in the first half and were given room to play by the home team. It took the side over half an hour to take the lead. Hedwiges Maduro rushed forward, came into the box and fired. His shot was blocked by the foot of goalkeeper Kujovic, the ball rebounded right into Angelos Charisteas' feet and he put it in the back of the net. A few minutes before halftime, Julien Escudé headed in a good free kick by Wesley Sneijder and Ajax were leading comfortably by 2-0. ,,It was a very good first half, Krol said. ,,As I had expected, we got a lot of room on the left side.
After the break, Nigel de Jong did not return. ,,He had received a little blow and Rafael van der Vaart came on for him. Maxwell went to left back'', Krol explained. Roda JC did not leave Ajax as much room in the second half as they had done before halftime, although Ajax had some more good opportunities through Mauro Rosales and Chariteas. The Greek striker played well, but was taken off with twenty minutes to play to make room for Ryan Babel. ,,I thought Charisteas played a fantastic match, his best one for Ajax so far. But I thought he was tired and I wanted to bring more speed up front with Babel'', said Krol.
Roda coach Vloet had instructed his team to play hard and aggressive to maybe benefit from the termoil that had kept Ajax in its grip in the past days. But only in the second half the home team seemed to have listened to their coach. It gave Roda a goal back when Cristiano scored with a bicycle kick: 1-2. Roda tried to put the pressure on the Ajax defence, but the two goals from the first half proved enough for the first three points for Krol and Bruins Slot.
,,We have booked a great result under very difficult circumstances today'', Krol declared after the match. ,,Playing here is always difficult for us, and it was not easy for us to take over just like that. We could have scored more in the second half, but I think we can build on this win toward a sunny future.''