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Koeman uses shock measures

November 09, 2004 11:13 IST

Ajax Amsterdam coach Ronald Koeman is using emergency measures to try and turn the tide for the struggling Dutch champions.

With six new names and eight positional changes, Ajax beat Willem II Tilburg 3-1 on Sunday following the humiliating 2-1 midweek Champions League defeat at Maccabi Tel Aviv.

"It has been a shock for the players and that is exactly what I aimed for," Koeman told reporters.

Dutch internationals Maarten Stekelenburg, Nigel de Jong and Wesley Sneijder stayed on the bench, while Johnny Heitinga did not make the squad at all.

In Heitinga's case, Koeman explained that he took the decision to protect the talented youngster.

"I had already spoken with Johnny two weeks ago and suggested that he would have some rest," said Koeman.

"The decision is not based on one match but we really thought it out weeks ago."

Anthony Obodai and Belgian international Wesley Sonck were also dropped from the squad.

For Sonck it seems a logical decision as he publicly showed his dissatisfaction to his coach when he was substituted against NEC Nijmegen a week ago.

Despite the win against Willem II, with Argentina's Mauro Rosales twice on target, Ajax are still a long away from the form they need to battle for the Dutch title and extend their European campaign.

Next Sunday Ajax, fourth in the standings eight points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven, are at home to second-placed arch-rivals Feyenoord, this season's most prolific team in the first division with 33 goals and Dirk Kuijt and Salomon Kalou topping the scorers' list with nine each.

A defeat against the Rotterdam side, who have experienced a bright revival under new coach Ruud Gullit, would virtually end Ajax's aspirations of retaining their title.

On top of that, finishing third in Champions League Group C seems the best the four-times European champions can aspire to with matches at Juventus and against Bayern Munich to come.

Theo Ruizenaar
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