At AZ, sights set on West Ham, at Ajax disappointment prevails: ‘Despondent? Not that’
AZ coach Jansen flies to London as early as tomorrow: ‘Sights now set on West Ham’
Sunday morning on the plane to London, AZ coach Pascal Jansen will probably think back to Mayckel Lahdo’s shot on the post. Perhaps he will go over the many moments when his team in the Johan Cruijff Arena just failed to make a successful breakthrough. And he will probably also analyze Ajax’s chances.
But then the button will also turn very quickly. “The sights are now one hundred percent on West Ham. I’m flying to London tomorrow to watch them against Man United. You have to enjoy that, that’s obvious. But that also applied to tonight. To be able to compete in May in Amsterdam with Ajax for spot three in the league table: you have to enjoy that, because that’s what you fight for all year.”
Because of the 0-0, that third spot – and with it the ticket for the Europa League – remains in Ajax’s hands for now. The difference with three games left to play is two points. Still, Jansen could live with the draw. “Actually, yes. We got chances, but also got away well. They undertook a bit more, not surprising when they play at home. With both, the sights were not always sharp. But if you play 0-0 in such a tough away game, then you can also be satisfied.”
Reijnders can live with point against Ajax and looks forward to West Ham: ‘Looking forward to it a lot’
Midfielder Tijjani Reijnders also cannot wait to play the Conference League semi-final. “We haven’t looked forward to this match at all, but this is a nice period. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Ajax season as a nightmare
Whereas AZ still has the Conference League to look forward to, Ajax’s season seems to be going out like a night candle. For the first time, the Amsterdammers failed to win a league game in an entire season against Feyenoord, PSV and AZ.
The title has long been given away to arch-rival Feyenoord. And after today, the Champions League also seems out of sight: the deficit on spot two (PSV) has grown to five points. Had AZ won, Ajax might even have to settle for the Conference League. That attack has been repulsed for now, but comfort could not be much more meager for the proud Amsterdammers.
International Kenneth Taylor struggled to find words to describe his disappointment. “That’s a tick yes. The atmosphere in the locker room? Bales of course. Luck has to be forced they say. It really didn’t want to go in.”
“Despondent not,” coach John Heitinga described his feeling. His words were followed by a deep sigh. “Pressure is always here, not just today. The boys are doing everything they can, but you also have to have a little bit of luck. They battled, but you have to shoot them in.”
How to move forward? “That you play a difficult season is obvious,” Heitinga agreed. “We have to win those last three games and then we’ll see.”
And that includes his own position. “When I know more, I will inform you.”