It was not just a match between RKC and Ajax this season. Family honour was at stake. For the first time in their careers, the brothers Koeman met as opposing head coaches of a professional football team. Ronald Koeman picked the same line-up as the team that defeated RBC last week, and came out on top. Erwin lost 2-1.
,,I would allow him a point", said Ronald Koeman, family man he is, before the match, but at this stage in the season, Ajax could not afford that. ,,We are not in the situation to give away any points.'' It seemed great to the Ajax coach to join his brother at the press conference after the match, but then he as the winner and his older brother as the losing coach. And that is exactly what happened. Erwin enjoyed the situation. ,,Today was great'', said the older sibling. ,,But we did not get any points.''
Yet it was Erwin's team who made the first move. Robert Fuchs fired and Michael Krohn-Dehli changed the trajectory of the shot so that Hans Vonk was surprised. Ajax were trailing, but seemed hardly shocked by that. ,,RKC withdrew after their goal and we changed the flow of the match in a good way'', said Ronald Koeman.
Wesley Sneijder used the room he was given by Jasar Takak to optimum effect. The first (warning) shot missed the target but minutes later he fired the ball in the low right corner, 1-1. A lesser period for Ajax followed. Only after the 30-minute mark, the team from Amsterdam pressed on. With immediate success. Mauro Rosales was in the right place when goalkeeper Khalid Sinouh could not handle Tomás Galásek's effort, 1-2. Right after, Ajax could have made it 1-3, but Van der Vaart and Rosales combined to no effect.
,,I think we saw a lively match but in the second half we stopped playing proper football'', said Ronald Koeman. Ajax could not build a decent offence, Vonk made some strange moves and midfield and attack were never really involved in proceedings, but RKC failed to capitalise on their opportunities. ,,I have to give my players a compliment for the second half'', said RKC's coach. ,,RKC deserved better'', admitted Ronald. ,,I am always realistic in that, not just now because it concerns my little brother. Oh, big brother, I should say of course.'' His big brother made noises of approval.
Toward the end of the match, RKC seemed to get the point they deserved, but former Young Ajax player Krohn-Dehli struck the post. In the final minute, Sneijder also hit the post from a free kick and sub Ryan Babel fired the rebound also against the aluminum. ,,It is still a great occasion", said Erwin about the fact that he and his brother shared centre stage. ,,Life goes fast", said the winning coach. ,,First we played against each other, now we face each other as coaches. What's next?'' Erwin knew the answer. ,,The retirement home, playing billiards together.''