Preview: Ajax U17 – ABN Amro Future Cup 2018

The Ajax Daily Youth Team brings you all the latest news

Ajax U17 will be participating in the ABN Amro Future Cup this weekend. The annual event is hosted by Ajax and many talents have played at the well-known tournament at De Toekomst. Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Donny van de Beek, Matthijs de Ligt, Justin Kluivert and Abdelhak Nouri all showed their class at the Future Cup, to name some examples. The last years a few big clubs, such as FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Bayern München, visited Amsterdam during the Easter weekend. In the 2018-edition, Ajax U17 is in a group with Sporting Portugal U17, PSG U17 and Sydney FC U17.

‘Ones to Watch’
It might be a bit cliché to say, but this U17-group is very talented. The group is very young and most of the time they are a joy to watch. Three of the youngsters in this group are Kenneth Taylor (15), Brian Brobbey (16) and Sontje Hansen (15), all promoted to the U17’s before the season started and they are doing incredibly well.

Let’s start with Kenneth Taylor. The 15-year-old midfielder has found his spot in the team and played 22 games so far this season. In the last few weeks, he has put his mark on the games with goals and assists: he provided 6 Goals and 10 Assists. One of his key attributes is his passing, especially his capability to give through balls and his vision. Most of the time he wants to pass the ball forwards.

The next one to watch is Brian Brobbey. Currently, the striker is top scorer of the academy. He has scored 28 goals in 24 official matches and also assisted 9 goals this season. The 16-year-old is very strong, but it’s too easy to say that he thanks all the goals to his physical appearance. The attacker, who already made his debut for the U19’s, is an excellent target man. He is great at protecting the ball and handing it to teammates, but he can easily turn away from defenders and take them on one on one as well. These qualities cause Brobbey to find himself in one on one situations with defenders. Although a physical striker might not be the first type of player to come to mind when one thinks of an Ajax striker, Brobbey can perfectly fit into the U17s team and in the system. Brobbey has spoken out his hopes to become the top scorer of the Future Cup this year and he certainly is one to watch.

One of Brobbey’s attacking partners is Sontje Hansen. Originally a striker, he finds himself on the wing more often this season. He is great at give and go’s with teammates, agile, can be deadly with his dribbles and with taking on defenders and he has the instinct to score goals. Against PSV, he showed his improvement in reading the game with a pass to Taylor, who almost scored. The 15-year-old might surprise a few fans this edition.

The inclusion of Ryan Gravenberch could be seen as a surprise. The midfielder, only 15(!) years old, was promoted to U19 earlier this season and often features in the first eleven. Of course, this isn’t normal, but regarding his qualities and his development, he should be there. Gravenberch will miss the Saturday game if he is included in the U19 squad. On Sunday and Monday, he’ll joint he U17s. This means that Saturday offers a chance for other players. And the other days? Well, one of the best talents of the academy might always come in handy at the Future Cup.

Highlighting a few players is difficult for the simple reason that a lot of players have had a great season so far, both individually as well as with the team. For that reason, it might be better to look at positions rather than individuals. Starting from the back, Daan Reiziger has started 19 games this season already because of an injury that the unlucky fellow goalkeeper Jord Ruijgrok has to deal with. Reiziger is a keeper that you will always hear across the pitch. He’ll try to coach his defence and to help them position as well as possible. In front of the keeper, the starting players vary more often, since Ajax tends to switch players between teams throughout the season. The first four in defence will likely be Ki-Jana Hoever, Liam van Gelderen, Jurriën Timber and Terrence Douglas. Timber has played a decent 5 games in U19 this season already, while Van Gelderen has been starting for U19 as well. Because of the full schedule that U17 currently faces, those two have been sent back to U17. Terrence Douglas has developed under coach Dave Vos and he can prove his worth in both defence and attack, where he often takes part in the build-up play.

In midfield, Enric Llansana, Quinten Timber and Kenneth Taylor have started for U17 for the past few weeks. Llansana has been performing well this season, playing himself to a U19’s debut. The same goes for Quinten Timber, who doesn’t shy out of challenges and who works hard for the team. The question is what the midfield will look like, considering Gravenberch’s return from the U19’s on Sunday and Monday. In any case: there is no lack of quality in midfield fort he U17’s.

The usual strike force consists of Brian Brobbey, Sontje Hansen and either Eros Maddy, Venitchio Sint, Hossein Zamani or Denilho Cleonise. The last four have been sharing a place in the starting line up for the past games. Winger Maddy played a great game versus PSV, while Zamani and Cleonise have proved their worth with goals and assists last weekend in the U16’s.

At Ajax young talents always can show themselves on the pitch. This is the case during competition games and the Future Cup is no exception. Many players have grabbed their chance at the highly regarded tournament. This year, a lot of younger players are included in the squad: Hossein Zamani, Ki-Jana Hoever, Naci Unuvar, Jaymillio Pinas and Nerayhso Kasanwirjo all are at an age on which they don’t have to play U17’s football yet. But they do. Zamani and Hoever were promoted to the U17’s (during) this season already, with Zamani showing good form over the last month or so, with nice dribbles and a world class goal last weekend. Hoever has played for the team since the winter break. He is improving himself and being in one of the best generations in the academy, he is used to playing attacking football with combinations and quick build-up play. One of the leaders of his generation is Naci Unuvar. The playmaker is having a fantastic season as the captain of the U16’s, while only being just 14 (!). He made his debut for Ajax U17 back in November and he has played in 3 official games, in which he scored once and assisted twice. He has now been rewarded with a Future Cup spot.

Jaymilio Pinas has scored 19 goals so far this season. The striker is having a stunning first year in Amsterdam and has already made his U17-debut (last weekend). Whether he’ll play a lot has yet to be seen, but it is still great for his development. The last U16-talent who will be joining the U17’s for the Future Cup is Neraysho Kasanwirjo, a solid and athletic defender. His qualities are his pace and tackling abilities. Over the last few weeks, he has earned him a place in the U17’s squad (training) regularly since the winter break.

Coach Dave Vos
Since the first week of November, Ajax U17 is led by coach Dave Vos. He started with an away game in Utrecht (most Ajax fans will know that games in Utrecht aren’t exactly the easiest for Ajax), which Ajax won with a shocking 9-2. This would be a sign for what was yet to come for Vos’ team. The coach loves playing attacking football and that is exactly what the U17’s can do best. The U17’s have been a joy to watch during parts of this season and Vos’ team has gone unbeaten for 14 games until the unlucky loss against PSV. During these 14 games, Ajax U17 scored 60 (!) goals, more than 4 per game on average. The U17’s plafootballll which Ajax fans love to see and Vos gets the best out of his team at times. After the unlucky loss against PSV, Ajax recovered with a 4-2 win over AZ last Tuesday.

Ajax U17’s-Squad

Daan Reiziger
Harm Dieker

Liam van Gelderen
Jurriën Timber
Nordin Musampa
Ki-Jana Hoever
Paul Fosu-Mensah
Terrence Douglas
Neraysho Kasanwirjo

Ryan Gravenberch
Kenneth Taylor
Enric Llansana
Quinten Timber
Naci Unuvar

Brian Brobbey
Sontje Hansen
Denilho Cleonise
Venitchio Sint
Jaymillio Pinas
Hossein Zamani

Future Cup 2018 – Fixtures (GMT +1)
Ajax v Sydney FC (11:30)
Sporting Portugal v PSG (11:30)

Anderlecht v J-League (13:00)
Juventus v Sevilla (13:00)

Sporting Portugal v Ajax (14:30)
Sydney FC v PSG (14:30)

Juventus v Anderlecht (16:00)
J-League v Sevilla (16:00)

Ajax v PSG (12:30)
Sporting Portugal v Sydney FC (12:30)

Anderlecht v Sevilla (14:00)
J-League v Juventus (14:00)

All Finals (10:00)
Final (15:00)


The Ajax Daily Youth-team will inform you with the latest updates about our Academy. Do you want more information about our Youth, be sure to follow us on Twitter: @afcadailyyouth!