Ajax coach Frank de Boer claimed his team’s exit from the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds was a disappointment “for Dutch football”.
Rapid Vienna defeated Ajax 3-2 in Amsterdam on Tuesday to clinch a 5-4 aggregate victory, with De Boer’s men failing to reach the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2009-10.
After going behind 2-0 in the first half at the Amsterdam Arena, Ajax levelled the match and the tie at 4-4, only for Louis Schaub to put Rapid back in front two minutes after Nemanja Gudelj’s equaliser.
“This is so sad, for us and Dutch football,” De Boer said afterwards.
The Dutch media grilled De Boer for his decision to leave the likes of Gudelj, Lasse Schone, Ricardo van Rhijn and Johnny Heitinga on the bench.
But the 45-year-old stood by his decision: “I felt that this young team could make the difference. Unfortunately this was not the case.
“We will continue. The Europa League is very important because it is crucial to play in Europe.”
De Boer also took responsibility for not shutting the game down after Gudelj dragged Ajax level with 15 minutes remaining.
Rapid went up the other end and Schaub added his second goal of the match, picking out the top corner in the 77th minute.
“Shortly after the 2-2 I wanted to transform the team and play a defensive midfielder, allowing [Arkadiusz] Milik to play behind [Yaya] Sanogo. Then you could build a little more security,” De Boer said.
“I should have done it 15 seconds earlier. Although it is sour that we conceded a goal after our own throw-in.”