London -Mauricio Pochettino has told Tottenham not to use the absence of
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min or tiredness after a draining campaign as
an excuse for not making the Champions League final for the first time
in the club's history.
Kane headlines a lengthy injury list also including Erik Lamela and
Harry Winks for Tuesday's semi-final, first leg at home to Ajax, while
Son is suspended.
But having upset the odds to end Manchester City's quest for a
quadruple of trophies in the quarter-finals, manager Pochettino insisted
Spurs' strength as a collective can overcome Ajax's talented group of
"To be in a Champions League semi-final is something I dreamed about.
You need to settle your dreams, to infinity and beyond," Pochettino
said at his pre-match press conference on Monday ahead of Tottenham's
first European Cup semi-final since 1962.
"The chance to play a semi-final for Tottenham has not happened
often. We are in a circumstance that is not going to change and we must
"It is impossible to be tired, impossible to not be excited to play. I
am sure there is no doubt we will have the energy for 90 minutes."
However, while Pochettino's stretched squad were slipping to a sixth
defeat in their last 10 Premier League games to West Ham on Saturday,
Ajax have had a full week to rest as the entire Dutch league calendar
for the weekend was postponed to allow them extra time to prepare.
“The team is good. We are very fit, very eager and very fresh. We can
certainly perform at our best," said Ajax boss Erik ten Hag.
Without Kane, who is not expected to return this season unless Spurs
make it to the Champions League final on June 1, Tottenham's goals have
dried up since a thrilling 4-3 defeat in the second leg of their
quarter-final at City was enough to progress on away goals.
Christian Eriksen's late strike to secure a 1-0 victory over Brighton on Tuesday was Spurs' only goal in their past three games.
Son's absence means Pochettino is robbed of another goal threat, with
Lucas Moura and Fernando Llorente his only striking options.
However, the Argentine said Spurs' teamwork can compensate for that lack of firepower.
"I think the point is that we arrive where we are now because we were a team and we are going to be a team," he said.
"I don't care who is going to score. Always it's an issue to not have
all the players fit, but in front of any name was the team, the
Four-time European champions Ajax have far more European pedigree
than Spurs, but their run to the last four for the first time since 1997
is arguably an even bigger surprise given the financial gulf between
the Eredivisie and the Premier League.
But with his youthful side already being broken up with Frenkie de
Jong headed to Barcelona next season and captain Matthijs de Ligt
attracting interest from Europe's top leagues, Ten Hag is keen to make
the most of this side's only shot to win the competition.
"It’s amazing that we are in the Champions League semi-finals –
nobody could have predicted at the beginning of the season that a Dutch
team would end up in the Champions League semi-finals," he added.
"We have achieved something, but we want to do more. We don’t want to rest on our laurels."