Observed by several Dutch journalists, delegates from fellow club BATE Borisov, and former professional players Patrick van Diemen and Louis Laros, Frank de Boer’s team completed a long and varied training.
The goalies trained for part of the session separately with keeper coach Carlo l’Ami. Ronald Graafland, who sustained an injury to his left middle finger on Sunday evening, joined the training. He completed several running and technical exercises. But he had to forego his trusted position under the crossbar for now.
Darío Cvitanich (injury to left ankle) and Oleguer (right hamstring) stayed behind in the hotel. The remaining eighteen players were subjected to an extensive course on one of the fields. The group also played a game. With focus, and directions from coach de Boer, the pace was set and the one touches quickened. “One touch!” shouted Suarez.
The motivated forward reported back for duty at Ajax after a holiday in Uruguay. “I’ve had a couple weeks of rest”, says Suarez after the practice. “That was important to me. 2010 was a busy year. I played many matches with Ajax, and then participated in the World Cup in South Africa in the summer. I haven’t really had a chance to rest. I’ve been able to charge my batteries during the past three weeks. Now, I can help the team again.”
As much as Suarez wants to boost the team, his role has changed somewhat compared to a few weeks ago. It’s been decided, in conjunction with De Boer, that Maarten Stekelenburg will be the new captain. The former captain believes it’s a good choice. “I think that's fine, and respect Frank’s decision. But, of course, I’ll still be here to help the team”, he repeats. “It’s also good, because now, people won’t pay so much attention to me anymore.”
Just a few weeks more, until Sunday January 30, and Suarez can stand by his team mates in the competition once again. The Uruguayan forward received a seven game suspension in November after the biting incident during the PSV match. It’s not always easy to wait until the suspension ends. “I have to sit out three more games. Not being allowed to play, and the waiting, is very difficult for me.” The training camp agrees with Suarez so far. “A preparation like this is good for the team. It’s going well until now. We can prepare well for the second half of the season.”