dlj direct. THR 1 3QPm FIDRENTINfl US. PflNATHINfllKQS fllAH US. flSTDN UlLLft 7:nnpm CDNSQLRTIQN. MATCH 4PfY) SiSDPm CHRmPIDHSHIP mRTCH AFC AJAR AmSTERDAm: A.C. FIORENTINA: ASTON UILLA F.C.: PANATHINAIKOS FM dlj direct Ajax is not as strong today as the team they fielded back in 1995 with Seedorf, Kanu, Overmars, Kluivert, Davids, and Rijkaard to name a few of the stars. Ajax is clearly in a rebuilding mode. But with the magnificent youth department that Ajax is famous for, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. New coach Jan Wouters, who played on the 1988 Dutch team with Gullit, Van Basten, Koeman etc. has sold the last golden boys from 1995 in goalkeeper Edwin Van der Saar to Juventus, Meichiot to Chelsea, England, and Jarri Litmanen to Barcelona, Spain. Wouters has added to the team the exciting Danish striker Brian Laudrup from Chelsea, England. This is a major addition to a team that is known for elegant soccer. The Dane who almost took Denmark to a win over Brazil in the '98 World Cup has had trouble settling down since France, but seems to have found peace in the Dutch Powerhouse. Wouters also managed to convince old-Ajax-boy Aron Winter to return to help rebuild the proud Ajax side. Bringing back Winter is a sign of Wouters connections and his reputation among Dutch players. As a player he was a tough, at times even mean, midfielder but off the field he was the joker and friend that always had time to help out a fellow player. Last season was not pretty for Ajax. Having to watch their arch-rivals, Feyenoord, take the championship away from them was devastating for Ajax fans. It didn't help that this had already been decided half-way. through the season. Highlights of the season: There were not a lot. The Low points were clearly watching Feyenoord take the trophy fairly uncontested and the behavior of the De Boer twins in their departure for Barcelona, Spain at mid-season. The 1999/2000 Season looks to be different. Wouters, who was hired in the middle of-last season, has spent his time getting the team ready for next season. The team coming to New York in July for the DLJ Direct Gotham Cup tournament should be a good indicator of what can be expected of the proud Dutch Club. (bruin laudrup dressed for the dunes) All the experts saw Fiorentina as one of the serious contenders for the 1998/99 season. With the addition of a World class coach in Giovanni Trapattoni and the renewal of Batistuta's contract Fiorentina looked extraor dinary. The shopping that was done in the summer up to the beginning of the season only added to the excitement. Rui Costa from Portugal, Jorg Heinrich from Germ ah y, Oliveira from Belgium, and Spanish star Amor all are internationally renowned names. Fiorentina was on its way. It looked like Fiorentina was going to prove the experts right when half way through the season Trapattoni's boys indeed were leading. Yet, as the long season extended into spring, it became obvious that Fiorentina did not have the depth that some ot the other powers had. Injuries and suspensions caused them to slide. When all was said and done, they slid to a respectable third place in what is, arguably, the best league in the world. Highlights of the season were the 1-0 win in Turin over Juventus, resulting in a position in next years Champions League. The Lower point was being expelled from the UEFA Cup because of fan behavior. The 1999/2000 Season promises to be even more successful for the strong Firenze team. Even though they lost Brazilian Edmundo, they gained midfielder Angelo Di Livio from Juventus, a pair of strikers from Parma in Italy's Enrico Chiesa Argentina's Abel Balbo, and the Serbian forward Predrag Mijatovic from Real Madrid. All proven international names that should add the power and depth that Trapattoni desperately needs. mi casta for fiorentina) In a time where the Bosman ruling is dominating the English Premier League and Foreign Imports are dominating the teams, it is unheard of to have a team that consists almost entirely of British players. Nevertheless, John Gregory, the coach of Villa, has managed to field a team that did this. To compete week in and week out against the Man Us, the Arsenals, the Liverpools, and Chelseas says a lot about the little team from Birmingham that plays so big! World Soccer Magazine in a preview of the 1998/99 season said this about the team from Villa Park: "More recruitments are urgently required for a credible campaign in the League and UEFA Cup." Well a spot in the UEFA cup and a sixth place finish in front of teams like Liverpool, Tottenham, Newcastle, and Middlsborough, all famous for heavy international shopping sprees seems to be pretty good. Are they overachieving? Well, only time will tell, but it seems like Gregory has something good here. A mix of youngsters like Alan Thompson, Gareth Barry and Dion Dublin all on the English youth national team and veterans like Paul Merson, Gareth Southgate, Mark Draper seems to be working. Gregory has a finger on the pulse. After all, he masterminded the move to create the immediate addition of Calvin Klein Model 'keeper David James from Liverpool after the transfer of flam boyant "Aussie" 'keeper Marc Bosnich. Gregory knows his team and its limitations, he knows where to move and after whom. He adapts to the situation in front of him and his team and that makes Aston Villa a very dangerous outsider in next year's League and UEFA Cup. If the other teams are not careful, these tricky Brits could add the "Gotham Cup trophy to their collection at the end of July. (dion dumin[ri.} in a premier league match) Whenever the proud fans of this Greek club have to watch their arclurivals from Olympiakos raise the trophy, the season has been a failure. This hap-" pened again this year and as such the fans were disappointed. It did not help that the club did not manage to advance in the Champions League. Even the National Cup (comparable to the US'Open Cup) was lost. The last time Panathinaikos won a trophy was in 1995 wbere they were double trouble, winning both National Cup and League Championship. Looking back they dominated Greek soccer in the begin ning of the 1990s. So what happened? Like Ajax, the club is going through a change. Old players are almost done and new players are coming in. Additions like Mauro Da Silva from Brazil, Greek U-21 National Team star Georgios Karagounis and powerful wingback Aljosa Asanovic have made Panathinaikos the team to. watch for next season. Coach Danill seems to have the formula for mixing young and old talent. The old Polish fox Kryztof Warzycha is still roaming around up front and sneaking goals with the best of them. Norwegian veteran Erik Myklana ties the midfield together brilliantly as he has done for Norway for many years. Because the expectations are so high from the media and the fans anything less than a trophy is seen as a disappointment for the Athens club. Despite the stress Danill has had a few years to build a strong team and it seems like the patience that the management of the club has shown their coach will be rewarded. There is no doubt Panathinaikos has the talent and the eagerness to push Olympiakos off their throne. Whether it will be this year or next year remains to be seen. The poten tial is there for a big season for Panathinaikos and their fans all over the world. (kryztof warzycha celebrates)


Programmaboekjes (vanaf 1934) | 1999 | | pagina 1