Last weekend, the Eredivisie season officially ended; Ajax finished in 2nd place, with Feyenoord celebrating their first league title since 1999. Fortunately, we still have the Europa League final to look ahead upon, meaning Bosz and his boys still have one very big shot on landing silverware. Ajax wouldn’t be Ajax though, if the club wasn’t competing on other fronts too. One of those is that of the flagship of the Toekomst, the Under 19’s.
Aron Winter’s side are, bar the senior squad, the only team at the club that are still competing for titles. Two of them, actually. On Wednesday afternoon, they would go up to face AZ for the U19 league, where Ajax held a 6 point lead over PSV with 3 games left to play. In Alkmaar, AZ were intimidated by the young Ajax side. Shots by Boultam and Lang, as well as a header from Nunnely, delivered lots of danger but no goal. That all changed 30 minutes into the first half, as Lang fired a shot that couldn’t be stopped by the AZ goalie; 0-1. Just a few seconds later, Ter Heide got a chance to double the lead, but failed to go past List.
AZ came our of the locker room a different side, actually creating a few chances and playing far more aggressively. A goal by them seemed likely at this point, but the contrary took place; Ajax doubled their lead as Noa Lang made his second of the afternoon. In the following minutes, both sides for their fair share of chances but neither capitalised on them, meaning a 0-2 victory for the Under 19’s was the result. Due to the win, Ajax can crown themselves league champions against Feyenoord on the 21st of May.
On Saturday, another important fixture followed for Winter’s boys as they played in the semi-finals of the Nike Cup. The opposition was AZ, once more, but this time Ajax played a home fixture. In the opening minutes, the game looked a carbon copy of the one played just a few days earlier between both sides, with Ajax pressurising the away side and forcing a good few chances early on. The opener eventually fell in the 21st minute, as Lang put in a great cross for Flemming, who’s header found Boultam completely open; 1-0.
In the second half, AZ again picked up the pace but this time had the lucky of actually scoring a goal. Kaandorp got free and managed to get the ball past Plomper, resulting in a very early 1-1. It took Ajax a while to re-establish themselves in the game, with the equaliser visually affecting the squad. Luckily, Winter got their heads in sync again and the side picked up the play in the 70th minute, which eventually led to Mees de Wit scoring the 2-1. After that, Ajax turned it up and saw the heightened pace lead to more goals, with both Ekkelenkamp and Lang picking up a goal to make it 4-1 after the full 90 minutes were played.
AZ fought bravely but simply weren’t a match for the Under 19’s in this game, as they were completely overrun as soon as Winter’s man kept going. In the final on the 16th of May, PSV awaits; not only giving Ajax the chance to win a domestic double at U19-level but also giving them the chance to single-handedly leave the Eindhovenaren without any silverware. Sounds familiar, eh. 😉
In other Toekomst news, Abdelhak Nouri has been voted Jupiler League Player of the Year for this season. His quality performances in Jong Ajax, often coupling beautiful play with goalscoring and assists, have led to him receiving the Gouden Stier this year, a prize previously won by Keisuke Honda during his VVV days and Alireza Jahanbaksh during his NEC period. Frenkie de Jong has been named Jupiler League Talent of the Year, due to his performances for Jong Ajax as well. His accolade is shared with Dries Mertens, Tjaronn Chery and Illias Bel Hassani, amongst others. Last, but not least, Tom Boere received a Gouden Stier for his impressive goalscoring, netting 33 goals this season. The former Ajacied was the most prolific scorer in the Jupiler League this season for FC Oss.