Ajax has won their second practice match, and their first test match at the Austrian training camp, 1-0. After Ajax’s Amateurs were defeated 5-1 on Saturday, Ajax won on Thursday night in Kufstein against the Egyptian record champion Al Ahly.
Coach Martin Jol chose a 4-4-2 setup in the Kufstein Alpenstadion. Hyun Jun Suk and Miralem Sulejmani were the two purely offensive Ajax players. Jeffrey Sarpong shot regularly from the right, while Siem de Jong (attacking central midfielder) also found connections. Urby Emanuelson had lots of space on left flank. Daley Blind was posted on right to defend captain Jan Vertonghen. Jeroen Verhoeven was the keeper. Jol’s selection played in Austria without the World Cup players.
The Ajax players seemed tired in Kufstein’s Alpenstadion. The Austrian training camp started on Monday, and the team even trained on match day. This fatigue appeared to dampen the team’s eagerness. Aside from a few opportunities for Micky Sulejmani, Ajax’s play was relatively flat. The Egyptians were threatening at times, but had a hard time reaching Verhoeven. The most exciting moment before the break for Al Ahly was a “goal” from keeper Sherif Ekramy. On a free kick, the former Feyenoorder played the ball from his goal right into Ajax’s goal. The attempt was immediately disqualified, as the free kick should have been taken indirectly.
After the break, young players Roly Bonevacia (for controlling midfielder Rasmus Lindgren), Marvin Zeegelaar (as left back) and Aras Özbiliz (for Suk, but active mainly on the left) had a chance to show what they could do. Toby Alderweireld replaced Oleguer. Anita went from right to left back. As the game progressed, Jan-Arie van der Heijden, Mitchell Donald and Johan Kappelho were also brought in.
Ajax and Al Alhy are no strangers. Ajax visited Al Alhy in Cairo in January 2003. Coach Ronald Koeman’s selection had posted a 2-1 win in the Egyptian capital. Tomás Galásek en Mido scored Ajax’s two goals. In fact, a spot on the squad was assigned to the young up and coming talent Wesley Sneijder. The future international and World Cup finalist played left back in Cairo.
With the fresh strength from the new comers, Ajax made a stronger impression in the second half. Sarpong seemed to benefit, but the offensive right midfielder lost the ball right in front of Ekramy. Fifteen minutes later, Sarpong landed in the Egyptian goal – but the ball didn’t. Goalie Verhoeven kept on stopping the rare attempts from the Egyptian side. One minute after seeing his free kick go wide, Sulejmani struck during extra time. The Serbian player struck gold with a low shot to the right bottom corner. Against expectations, Ajax managed to win.
“Al Ahly had all of their internationals, and we didn’t”, said Martin Jol afterwards. “I saw players who wanted to win, but it wasn’t that simple. It was tough. It’s all very new, also the way we played today. And I’m very pleased with the young guys. And it’s great when you manage to win, especially when Micky scores.”