Frank de Boer discussed the positives and negatives of the 0-2 win against NEC. The statistics (three wins and zero goals against) speak for themselves. The Ajax coach mostly emphasized what can still be improved in terms of execution and attention to detail.
“You always have to wait and see how a young team reacts three days after a European match”, said De Boer, referring to Ajax’s midweek match against FK Jablonec. The Amsterdam team won the first play-off match for the Europa League group match, 1-0. De Boer made two changes to the squad after that. Ricardo van Rhijn and Lasse Schöne were the newcomers on Ajax’s starting line-up in the Goffertstadion. “With that, I wanted to bring energy and calm into the team”, said the Ajax coach in NEC’s press room. “It was also interesting from a psychological point of view to see what would
Robben or Messi type
The football afternoon in Nijmegen didn’t disappoint De Boer, at least when it comes to the intention and the result of the match. The Ajacieds tried to make a real match of it. NEC was in less of a fighting mood. “But to make a match of it, you need two teams”, continued De Boer. “At times, there were 21 players on NEC’s half. That makes it hard to make decisions. Then, you need a Robben or Messi type to break it open. We don’t have that type of player yet. The rough field didn’t help, either. Then it becomes one of those matches.”
Even Arek Milik’s opening goal couldn’t draw the Nijmegen team out to more offensive play. “We got some more room in the second half and created four, five, six opportunities for sure. It’s positive that we didn’t give anything away. I’ve satisfied with how we played, three days after a European game.”
When asked, De Boer also gave his point of view on Jairo Riedewald’s selection. Just like his club mate Kenny Tete, the defender made his debut in the pre-selection of the Dutch national team. “A fantastic reward for Jairo. It can go fast. He has many attributes, both on defense and attack. I already told him: if you can wake up the monster in yourself, there’s no stopping you. He’s been showing that lately. He now needs to continue in this way and build up experience. But I’ve known for a long time that Jairo is very talented.”
“We dominated”, said De Boer, in closing. “It was a similar sort of game as last Thursday’s. The duel against Jablonec has been evaluated. The players have clued in. They’re now looking for depth more often. I was satisfied with the substitutions, too. Fischer and Sinkgraven created danger. Of course it could be better, that’s clear. But today, mentally, we played a good match.”