‘Reach a higher level against Celtic’

‘Reach a higher level against Celtic’

On Friday, Frank de Boer held his first press conference prior to Ajax’s home match in the Amsterdam ArenA. Celtic will be visiting on Saturday, starting at 7p.m., for a friendly match. “I want to show that we’ve made progress”, said the Ajax coach of his expectations. “To dominate and to create. We want to step up to a higher level.”

Even in your own stadium, you want to have sixty per cent possession against Celtic”, continued De Boer in the press room of the Toekomst sports complex. “I’ve seen Celtic at work twice, among which was one game against Glasgow Rangers. Celtic is a typical Scottish team. With Samaras as a left winger or false striker. In any case, we need to be prepared for the passion with which they play.”

This training camp offers De Boer the possibility to see his players in action for ninety minutes for the first time. Southampton (Saturday) and Norwich City (Sunday) will act as sparring partners. This fits in perfectly with the careful buildup with which the national champions prepare for the season opener against cup winner PSV. Theo Janssen’s light injuries from Friday appear not to be too serious. “During an easy fitness test, his calf filled up, as we say in football. But he’s fine. He’ll train tomorrow morning, and after that we’ll see if Theo will be able to play against Celtic.”

Derk Boerrigter and Miralem Sulejmani seem to be on the road to recovery as well. The left winger is closest to gaining playing time in the top team. Boerrigter undergoes a scan on Monday. “If the results are good, he could play in England. Derk can be fit for the start of competition. Miralem has been out for four months, but can do alot now. We’re building him up slowly. It’s too early to declare him fit for matches. Eyong Enoh has lost muscle mass due to his knee injury. He’s being trained for that now.”

Nicolai Boilesen is also recovering from a hamstring injury. The young Dane was in attendance for part of group training for the first time on Friday. “Mentally, it’s an important step, a mental victory for him”, said De Boer. “Nicolai is coming to England. But I don’t expect him to be fit for the start of competition.”