Transformed Boukhari takes Ajax by the hand

Transformed Boukhari takes Ajax by the hand

With the stadium nearly empty and his teammates already having a party in the dressing room, he was the last one to leave the pitch, the Johan Cruijff Shield clutched firmly under his arm. Nourdin Boukhari wanted to enjoy the moment of glory longer than anyone. Ajax's first real succes of the season had the fomer left winger's signature all over it. Boukhari was the creative genius in midfield behind the victory against PSV (2-1).

Danny Blind had used Boukhari as left midfielder before, but mainly in training and matches against amateur teams. When he was appointed Ajax's head coach, Blind announced that he saw the Moroccan player first and foremost as a midfielder. Friday Blind repeated those thoughts after the match. ,,Boukhari lacks the speed for a winger but he 'sees' the game, has depth and can score. So I think he belongs in midfield.''

In the first official match of the season, Boukhari was given the opportunity to show his qualities for a bigger audience. Blind rested Wesley Sneijder and Olaf Lindenbergh had a thigh injury. That freed up the opportunity for Boukhari, who grabbed his chance with both hands.

Right from the beginning, the transformed Boukhari was the player with the best ideas and the most offensive initiative. It did not yet lead to goals for Ajax. And PSV could not convert the few chances they received either.

Boukhari's actions and the surplus of ball possession of Ajax once again proved futile when PSV took the lead early in the second half. Bouma scored from a corner kick.

But that did not discourage Ajax this time. Boukhari and Hedwiges Maduro just missed but the side did not give in. On the contrary, Ajax gained confidence. First Nigel de Jong's header was disallowed for offside, but minutes later Boukhari's free kick sailed into the top left corner of Gomes' goal: 1-1.

Five minutes later Ajax were finally rewarded for being the best team on the pitch. Ryan Babel gave his side the lead when he finished a give and go with, who else, Boukhari. Ajax won and were left with plenty of confidence for the crucial match against Brøndby on Wednesday.