[2885] It has been awhile Ajax, it’s been awhile

I first began supporting Ajax in the late 1990s after watching Edwin van der Sar playing for the team. I do not remember when exactly, but possibly after finding out Ajax won the 1995 European Cup.

That team was a magical one. Marc Overmars. The de Boer brothers. Nwankwo Kanu. Jari Litmanen. Clarence Seedorf. Danny Blind.

As a teenager, I kept drawing Ajax’s Dutchman logo on my belongings. Pencil case, exercise books, tabletop. I remembered every line that needed to be drawn. And when I played Championship Manager, I only played Ajax and nothing else.

It has been ups and downs with Ajax. But since the late 1990s in general, until Frank de Boer arrived to manage the team, it is not an exaggeration to say it had been a downhill journey. I have stayed true to the team for all those years, but being dismissed as a has-been second-rated team was an insult I am sure many Ajax fans had to endure.

That is not to say there were no great players during the interim. Rafael van der Vaart. Wesley Sneijder. Luis Suarez. Christian Chivu. John Heitinga. Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The names go on and go. Yet, they could not quite make it super big at Ajax, and Ajax could not hold on to them. There was not enough money to go around. So they went away, doing great things at bigger clubs outside, getting paid multiple times more than what they got in Amsterdam.

But this current team, well…

I watched some ESPN clips commenting about the Ajax-Juventus fixture. All of them were dismissing Ajax with a halfhearted hand wave. “Ajax is good,” they said. “But they lack the experience,” they claimed.

And there was Cristiano Ronaldo.

This team that forced Bayern Munich to work for their one point and embarrassed Real Madrid in Santiago Bernabeu so badly, could not beat Juventus so supreme in the Serie A and so certain to win the Italian League, they believed.

And Ajax, oh well, Ajax is only at the top of the second-rated division, ahead of PSV Eindhoven by only goal difference.

Who is Ajax?

But Ajax has been in a serious rebuilding mode since the early 2010s when several of the 1990s veterans joined the management. There were infighting, but Frank de Boer rebuilt the team. He left in 2016 but he left a great foundation for Ajax to run on that they reached the final of the 2017 Europa Cup, losing to Manchester United after a great run. But well, that is second-rated competition. Who cares?

And now, in 2019 Ajax is in the semifinal after beating Juventus. Do not let anybody say it was luck. It was actually Ajax working brilliantly with confidence and experience.

And those ESPN commentators?

Eating Ronaldo’s smelly socks, no doubt.

Humor Sports WDYT

[2798] Guess the scoreline for Malaysia-Saudi Arabia match

UAE scored 10 goals against Malaysia in the World Cup qualification. That is right. Ten against none. It is such a happy coincidence given the 1MDB and Najib scandals. It is UAE of all countries, the country which somebody sold Malaysia to.

But up next in the schedule, for September 8, is Saudi Arabia, which is probably as tough as UAE. So…

Malaysia versus Saudi Arabia. What will the result be?

  • Malaysia to win! (0%, 0 Votes)
  • A draw (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Lose by a goal or two (4%, 1 Votes)
  • Lose by 3-5 goals (22%, 5 Votes)
  • Lose by 6-10 goals (22%, 5 Votes)
  • Lose by 11-700,000,000 goals (13%, 3 Votes)
  • I have never taken these goals for personal gain (39%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 23

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[2618] Ajax went above expectation

Frankly, when I found out that Ajax would be grouped with Real Madrid (again!), Manchester City and Borrusia Dortmund in the group stage of the Champions Leauge, my heart sank. Does Ajax have any chance against these giants? Borrusia Dortmund maybe but Real and City?

The first two results were grim. In the first match, Ajax was unlucky to lose to Dortmund 0-1. Given the tough matches ahead, this was a must win and Ajax wasted it. It appeared, Ajax might even miss the Europa Cup. In the next match,  Real pummeled Ajax 4 to 1. In the third match, which was held earlier today, I had expected City to roll over Ajax.

And no, instead, Ajax streamrolled over City.

I woke up for sleep for a moment after going to bed early. Weary eyes, I picked up my phone and checked the score: Nasri made it one up for City. I went back to bed, expected the worst.

At dawn, weary eyes still, forced to get up by the noisy alarm, I picked the phone again and what I read delighted me.

Not a bad way to start the day.

The unfortunate thing is that things are getting tight because Dortmund beat Real unexpectedly. While that means the qualification spots are wide open, I prefer if Real had won. While that would probably realistic sealed the first spot for Real, leaving only the second spot open, it would be easier to have the second spot wide opened than all spots opened. Reason is simple: the points difference between the second and the third ranked teams in Group D would be smaller in the only-second-spot-is-opened scenario than the scenario of all-spots-are-opened.

Right now, there is a 3-point difference between second-placed Real and third-place Ajax. If Real had won, there would have been only a 1-point difference between Dortmund and Ajax.

Anyway, while I do want to see Ajax qualify into the next round of the Champions League (it has been too long), I think the realistic expectation is to go through the Europa Cup. To do this, Ajax will have to beat City (the next match will be in Manchester, which will be tough. Fighting away from home is also tough; I probably do not mind a draw) and beat Dortmund. Do all that to maintain the third spot.

I am convinced that Ajax can beat Dortmund in Amsterdam later in November.


[2614] The 900th win

Michigan 12, Michigan State 10.

That means the winningest college football team clinched its… our… 900th win.


[2594] It’s Saturday football!