Ajax hopes to earn a spot in the UEFA Champions League group phase at the expense of APOEL. A good foundation could thus be laid in Cyprus on Thursday.
The fact that expectations are high because after last season doesn’t interest Erik ten Hag. “There is an expectation that we will make it into the main tournament. That doesn’t mean anything. It’s our own expectation. We’re the ones setting the bar high”, said the coach at the press conference on the eve of the game.
'APOEL ambitious club'
At the same time, Ten Hag realizes that the opponent’s approach is probably exactly the same. “ APOEL is an ambitious club that has often played in the Champions League. They’re expecting to do that again. Expectations are high, but that’s the case with us, too.”
“We’ll need to be good”, continues Ten Hag. “And try to improve in every game this season. That’s normal in the part of the season we’re currently in. But in the end, it’s all about winning.”
Ajax has travelled to Cyprus without Quincy Promes. The win forward had to retire early from Saturday’s game in Venlo due to ankle pain. His injury was too serious for him to come. He won’t have recovered by Tuesday evening, so he stayed home.”
Ten Hag counting on Hakim & Nous
When asked if Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui will play, Ten Hag answered: “I’m counting on it.” “I’ve brought fit players. Ziyech and Mazraoui did an adjusted trained on Sunday. We’re going to train soon, and we’ll have to see how it goes. But I’m expecting them to be able to play.”
Andre Onana was at the press conference, too. Theh keeper cautiously hoped for European success again. “Last season was amazing. Of course you can’t compare seasons with each other, but we can definitely dream of new successes. We know why we’re here. I’m full of confidence and I’m looking forward to the game. When I see how the group is training and playing, it gives me confidence in good results.”