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De Boer: Underestimate us at your peril

Ajax coach Frank de Boer feels his club should not to be underestimated in the group stages of this season’s Champions League.

A gulf in quality had been pinpointed the moment the Eredivisie champions were drawn together in Group D alongside heavyweights Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City.

But the former Barcelona defender has been quick to allay fears that Ajax are merely there to make up the numbers, and is confident his outfit have the capability of punishing any instances of complacency displayed by their opponents.

“If things go according to plan, we are capable of beating anyone through our Ajax philosophy,” the 42-year-old told Netherlands publication De Telegraaf.

“Carelessness on this level is fatal, so we must remain calm and rely on ball possession, passing it to Christian Eriksen, Siem de Jong and Ryan Babel.”

The Netherlands giants lost key players in a mass exodus during the off-season, with the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Vurnon Anita, Theo Janssen and Gregory van der Wiel opting to ply their trade elsewhere.

Nevertheless, de Boer believes the club’s ability to continue churning out homegrown talent stands them in good stead for the present and the future, tipping them to prove their worth on the professional stage.

“If everyone thought in terms of opportunities instead of problems, that would yield surprising results,” de Boer said. “I love the challenge of fixing things.”

“We begin training our players from 18 years of age, working hard to introduce players into the first-team every two to three years, as was the case with Rafael van der Vaart.

“The stakes are always high for those concerned, but it’s just a matter of thinking in opportunities rather than challenges.”

Ajax get their Champions League campaign underway with a trip to Germany to play Dortmund on Tuesday.

Sat 15 September, 2012
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