Ajax coach Frank de Boer believes his side ‘have a five per cent chance’ of progressing to the knockout stages of the Europa League, ahead of their clash with Group A leaders Molde.
The Dutch giants need to beat the Norwegian side, who have already secured their place in the round of 32, while hoping that eliminated Celtic upset second-placed Fenerbahce away from home in the group’s other game.
De Boer is pessimistic about Ajax’s chances and knows they need luck on their side if they are to advance against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
“Molde have proven to be a solid team that are well organised, they are hard to beat,” he said.
“I think we have a five per cent chance of making it through – that’s not a lot, but you never know in football.
“It’s like in the casino – you lose most of the time, but every now and then you win. Hopefully we will be lucky enough this time.”
The 45-year-old feels that Ajax only have themselves to blame for the situation they are in.
He insisted there is no major divide in quality between his side’s three opponents in Group A and the top three Dutch teams, and his players should have put up more of a challenge.
“Fenerbahce, Celtic and Molde are not better than the big three in the Eredivisie,” he said.
“We should have collected at least seven points at home and we are not going to make that [target]. Two draws at home is simply not good enough and we are made to pay for it.
“We dominated in all the games except against Fenerbahce but we forgot to kill off those games, while our opponents only needed one or two chances.
“The late goal we conceded versus Fenerbahce was a costly one. You cannot afford that at this level.”
Exiting the competition at this stage would mean Ajax have failed to progress from the group stages of the Europa League or the Champions League during De Boer’s five years at the helm.
They qualified for the Europa League knockouts in 2014-15 after finishing third in their Champions League group, only to lose to eventual finalists Dnipro in the round of 16.
And, despite winning the Eredivisie four times in that time, the former Netherlands international is adamant his side should be performing better in European competition.
“There have been some great highlights during my five years in charge of Ajax, but some bad moments as well,” he said.
“We won four domestic titles, but we did not do enough in Europe – that’s a shame.
“I would have loved to make it to the knockout stages of the Champions League at least once.”
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