In Friday’s press conference leading up to Ajax – FC Groningen, Erik ten Hag discussed the returning internationals and paid some extra attention to Frenkie de Jong. He also talked about Kasper Dolberg’s imminent return. “He’s going to play with the Ajax Reserves on Monday.”
Ten Hag on Dolberg: “This is very positive news. This spot in the Ajax Reserves means that, according to KNVB regulation, he is not allowed to be in the selection for FC Groningen. But it could mean that he will be at our first Champions League game next week.”
Positive interland week
Many Ajacieds have a successful interland week behind them. “This is definitely a confidence builder. It was a very positive week for many players. They are enthusiastic and energetic. They are looking forward to what’s coming up.”
Frenkie de Jong received high praise for his debut against France. When asked how all of this positive attention is affecting him, the coach answered: “I don’t really notice any difference. He’s still doing his job. A nice series of games is coming up. He needs to be ready for the next challenge.” But Blind was a different matter. Ten Hag clearly disagreed with the criticism his defender received. “I don’t share the general opinion. He deserves more respect. Some ‘experts’ are talking nonsense. You don’t become 3rd in the world if you can’t defend”, said the coach, referring to his achievements with the Dutch national team.
'Get into the right mood immediately'
Finally, FC Groningen, Ajax’s upcoming opponent, was discussed. “They’re making a good impression with the way they’re playing, even though it’s not reflected in the points.” FC Groningen has 3 points and is in 16th place in the Eredivisie.
Mateo Cassierra received some attention, too. “Last year, he showed good progress. The next step is the Eredivisie. He wasn’t ready for Ajax 1, which is why we made a clear plan for him. We see potential in him. We’ll continue to keep an eye on him and hope he develops more.”
The Ajacieds’ goal for Saturday is clear. “We made a good start to the season and ended the first period with good results against Dynamo Kiev and Vitesse. You can then only hope that the guys come back from interlands with positive experiences. And that’s the case, mostly. On Saturday, we want to get into the right mood right away.”