Soccer

Fergie praises Ajax's quality

2012-07-22 12:14
Alex Ferguson (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Manager Alex Ferguson was satisfied with Manchester United's workout, praising the quality of their opposition after the pre-season friendly against Ajax Cape Town on Saturday afternoon.

The Red Devils needed an injury-time goal by Bebe to salvage a 1-1 draw after Alcardo van Graan put Ajax ahead in the 86th minute.

It was a competitive, fast-paced game, with both sides creating chances throughout.

"They nearly [beat us], but we’ve been there before," Ferguson said.

"Ajax’s tactics were very good, they pressed the ball and when they won the ball they counter-attacked well and gave us a lot of worrying moments.

"It was a competitive game and it's good we managed to get some game time, with no injuries. It was very satisfying for us."

United head off to China next in their pre-season tour, having defeated AmaZulu 1-0 in their other SA game in Durban on Wednesday.

This is the third time in the last six years that United have toured South Africa, and Ferguson believed the quality of football in the country was improving.

"Over the years we have been here, there has been progress and I have seen good improvements," Ferguson said after Saturday's clash.

"Today we saw progress - Ajax played with a lot of speed, commitment and organisation."

Ajax coach Maarten Stekelenburg was pleased with the way they shaped up.

"The team played ok, and we were very happy for the support from Cape Town," Stekelenburg said.

"It's important for us to build our brand here in the city. Let's hope for our next games people come and support the team.

"I was happy with the game time, and for our players it was something special to play Man United."

Several of the club’s younger players were on display at a packed Cape Town Stadium and Stekelenburg said Ajax were working on the way forward after they finished ninth in last season's Premiership.

"We are on the right track and because our academy is so professionally run, I’m sure we are going to see many more talents coming through," he said.

"But it’s a long term thing and takes time, with the final step coming when the player steps up to the first team, so it's important that they get experience at that level.

"I’ve been with Ajax for three years now and worked with the youth before - I know that we have huge potential.

"I’ve always said that it's unbelievable how much young talent we have in South Africa."

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