Trainer Thomas Doll from APOEL Nicosia fully enjoyed Tuesday the way his team played against Ajax (0-0). The Cypriots were in no way inferior to the team from Amsterdam and might have had to win the final game in the Champions League play-offs.
"I am very happy with my team's game", said a proud Doll after the game in Nicosia. "We must not forget how easily Ajax won the away games against Real Madrid and Juventus last season. My players were great against one of the best clubs in Europe."
APOEL had a hard time at the start of the first and second half, but otherwise the top club from Cyprus remained upright against the moderately playing Ajax. The home team even got the best chances of the game, but the star player André Onana kept his goal clean.
"I don't feel like we have stolen this draw," says Doll, who saw the struggling Ajax grab a total of seven yellow cards (twice yellow Noussair Mazraoui) in Nicosia. "We deserved this result and with a little more confidence we could have scored and won the competition."
The players of Ajax drip after the disappointing result. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Players with confidence to Amsterdam
Also among the players of APOEL, confidence has grown after the first game of the diptych. Midfielder Uros Matic, who played for NAC Breda between 2014 and 2016, is happy that APOEL's tactical plan worked against Ajax.
"We gave one hundred percent and played well," the Serbian ruled. "This scoreless draw is a positive result for us, because our dream is still alive. We must not forget that Ajax also had its chances, but we are going to be bursting with confidence towards Amsterdam next week."
Defender Giorgos Merkis agrees. "Before the match, we had signed for this result, but I think we deserved more. Ajax remains the favorite for me to continue, but we'll see how it goes. We can't afford any mistakes in Amsterdam."
The return at the Johan Cruijff ArenA will be played on Wednesday 28 August and will start at 9 p.m. The winner of the diptych qualifies for the group stage of the Champions League.
See also: Moderate Ajax starts with a draw at APOEL in the Champions League play-offs