Before Ajax fly to Portugal on Thursday for a ten-day training camp, the team played a friendly against Dutch first division side Heralces Almelo on Wednesday evening. The special thing about the match was that it was played on artificial turf. Ajax won 2-3.
Ajax had practiced playing on artificial turf on the pitch at youth complex 'De Toekomst' on Wednesday afternoon, but found the pitch at Heracles of a slightly different kind, probably because this grass was worn in.
In an open first half Ajax took a 3-0 lead through two goals by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and one by Rafael van der Vaart. Before halftime, Jansen got one back for the home side.
In the second half coach Ronald Koeman made many substitutions. It gave youngsters Tom de Mul, Thomas Vermaelen, Daniel de Ridder (who will all join the team in Portugal), and Michael Krohn-Dehli all a chance to make their first minutes in Ajax's first team. Vermaelen replaced John O'Brien, who was back after a long injury spell and who surprisingly played left midfielder in the first half.
Former Ajax player Darl Douglas made it 2-3 and both sides seemed happy with that result. Koeman afterwards praised his new young players and was content with the fact that his team had won the first match of 2004.