Celtic v Ajax: De Boer hopes it’s third time lucky

Ajax coach Frank de Boer is aiming for third time lucky when his side takes on Celtic in the Champions League.

Ajax manager Ronald de Boer shows his young squad how its done at Celtic Park last night. Picture: SNS
Ajax manager Ronald de Boer shows his young squad how its done at Celtic Park last night. Picture: SNS

The Dutchman was twice on the losing team at Celtic Park in Old Firm derbies during his short spell as a player at Rangers in 2004. He is now hoping he can come out on top at the venue, this time as a manager, as both clubs aim to kick-start their respective European campaigns.

De Boer said: “Things can change sometimes and hopefully now the luck is on my side tomorrow. I remember the great atmosphere and the rivalry between the two clubs. I played against Larsson and he was a real pain in the **** for Rangers at that time! The atmosphere is still in my mind. For me, it was a great adventure.”

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De Boer clearly savoured the intimidating surroundings of Parkhead and expects the same from his players.

He added: “For me, the players have to enjoy the atmosphere.

“When you are young, you want to play in this kind of stadium and this kind of atmosphere. It has to give you more adrenalin in your body to perform better.

“If you’re playing worse than your normal level, maybe you’re not good enough to play at this level. Of course, you can be nervous but when the referee starts the game, you have to get rid of the nerves and enjoy a great stadium and a great pitch.”

Celtic sit bottom of Group H on zero points, with Ajax a single point ahead after two games.

De Boer – who was to assess the fitness of injury doubt Niklas Moisander at training last night – said: “A draw will maybe be enough because two weeks later we play Celtic at the Amsterdam Arena.

“If we win that game, maybe it would be difficult for Celtic to get third place. To lose this game would give Celtic a great advantage so we want to get three points at Celtic Park.

“I think Celtic are favourites for this game. The level between both clubs is even and they are playing at home with the fans behind them. But after the last whistle we will see if they were favourites or not.”

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon said he hoped their fans would ensure an intimidating environment awaits Ajax’s young side but defender Daley Blind is determined to relish the experience. He said: “It will be nice to play in this stadium with its fantastic atmosphere. I want to enjoy it and I will enjoy this atmosphere.

“It will be the same for all the other players.”