Ajax coach Erik ten Hag has said his team will not rest on its laurels after claiming its first piece of silverware for nearly five years in Sunday’s Dutch cup final.
The Amsterdammers dispatched Willem II 4-0 with two goals in each half, including a brace for veteran striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but attention will now switch to their Champions League showdown with Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night.
‘It’s been a long time since Ajax won a trophy and it’s been hanging over us all season,’ Ten Hag told NOS. ‘Up till now the season’s gone perfectly, but we’re still not satisfied.
‘We’ll always have the memories of Real Madrid and Juventus, but in the end it’s all about getting something a tangible, and that means titles. We’ve got the cup, but it needs to lead to more.’
Ten Hag admitted his side had been below par in the first half against Willem II, with the Tilburg side creating good chances until defender Daley Blind broke the deadlock in the 38th minute.
A minute later Huntelaar scored his first following a flowing move that had echoes of Ajax’s best football in Madrid and Turin. The 35-year-old joined Johan Cruyff and
‘I didn’t think we played well in the first half,’ said Ten Hag. ‘Maybe it was the tension. For some of them it was their first final. We didn’t get into the game, But the 1-0 helped us on our way and the second was a superb goal.’
The margin of the win enabled Ten Hag to make his planned substitutions to conserve Frenkie de Jong, Dusan Tadjic and Hakim Ziyech’s energy ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League tie. ‘We’re well prepared for the kick-off on Wednesday,’ said the coach. ‘There are no niggles. As far as I can see it’ll be OK.’
The result was also good news for Feyenoord, whose De Kuip stadium hosted the final. Ajax are already guaranteed Champions League football next season as one of the top two Eredivisie teams, so the Europa League place for the cup winners will go to the Rotterdammers, who are secure in third place.
The fourth-placed team, currently AZ Alkmaar, will also automatically qualify for the Europa League, while teams five to eight will play off for the final qualifying spot.
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