The duo of John van’ t Schip and Michael Valkanis helped Ajax climb out of the Eredivisie’s relegation zone with a drought-ending 2-0 victory over Garang Kuol’s FC Volendam in their first match at the helm.
Goals from Steven Bergwijn and Chuba Akpom snapped Ajax’s 10-match winless streak across all competitions, while it ended their seven games without a victory in the league following five straight defeats.
Before Friday (AEDT), Ajax had not won a game since August 24, when they defeated Ludogorets 4-1 in the UEFA Europa League.
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Ajax appointed legendary Dutchman Van’ t Schip on a caretaker basis until the end of the season, with the powerhouse club struggling at the foot of the table after parting company with Maurice Steijn last week.
Van’ t Schip brought Australian coach Valkanis with him to Amsterdam after the pair previously worked together at Melbourne City in the Isuzu UTE A-League, PEC Zwolle in the Eredivisie and the Greece national team.
Valkanis had been in charge of Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Israeli Premier League before the season came to a halt due to the turmoil between Israel and Palestine.
In their match, Van’ t Schip and Valkanis oversaw a much-needed win at home to Volendam.
It was an emotional evening for Van’ t Schip in his first game at the helm of Ajax since he last managed the club in 2009.
Upon his appointment, he had spoken about the passing of his wife this month.
“It was the burning wish of my wife [who passed away this month] for me to go back to Ajax. Because it’s my club, it’s her club,” he had said.
“Our love started here. Ajax is my club and my wife gave me the approval from above. I know she is with me.”
After the game, Bergwijn told ESPN: “John van ‘t Schip spoke to us before the game, I get goosebumps when I speak about it now. It was very emotional.
“We all know the situation of the new manager (losing his wife), and he still comes here to help us. He told us that he had to do this, also for his wife.
“To be honest, I got emotional. And then you just want win this game for him and his wife.”
Socceroos forward Kuol came off the bench for Volendam, playing the final 11 minutes away from home.
Ajax are now 15th in the standings and above the relegation spots on goal difference, while Volendam are second from bottom.
Featured image: Ajax