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Koeman gets tough for Ajax

Published: Monday 16 September 2002, 14.59CET
Ronald Koeman had a tricky time preparing his AFC Ajax side for the visit of Olympique Lyonnais.

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Published: Monday 16 September 2002, 14.59CET

Koeman gets tough for Ajax

Ronald Koeman had a tricky time preparing his AFC Ajax side for the visit of Olympique Lyonnais.

By Theo Ruizenaar

AFC Ajax coach Ronald Koeman has had a tricky time in preparing for the Dutch side's return to UEFA Champions League action against Olympique Lyonnais.

Four from four
After a perfect start to the new Dutch season, which has seen Ajax register four wins from as many games, including the 2-0 weekend triumph against FC Zwolle, Koeman has had to get tough with the talented but unpredictable Ahmed Hossam, the Egyptian striker better known as Mido.

Mido out
The 19-year-old has been reprimanded for claiming he will leave the club during the winter transfer window after being unhappy at his first-team chances this season. Koeman has said he will not figure against Lyon in the Group D encounter at the Amsterdam ArenA.

Family spirit
Koeman was particularly unhappy at the impact on the rest of the squad.  "Players like to see the selection as a family and when one of the members of the family is going is own way, then the group will show some resistance," he said.

Litmanen in
Koeman has had injury worries too, with goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont and midfield player Rafael van der Vaart out with knee injuries. Jari Litmanen, recently returned from Liverpool FC, should fill the gap left by Van der Vaart.

Defensive approach
The coach said his side will show a more defensive side to their game against their visitors: "We are playing in the Champions League now, so you have to be aware of your opponent, and especially their speciality." Koeman added that his side "will face them without fear". For them, read Lyon's striking duo Sidney Govou and Sonny Anderson.

Counterattack hope
For all Lyon's attacking wealth, Anderson believes the French team's rearguard will be key. "We will lean on our defence tomorrow night and then we have to try to take our advantage on the break," he said. The forward is also aware that Internazionale FC and Rosenborg BK lie in wait, a fact which emphasises the need for a good start.

Previous meeting
The match will be the first meeting between the two sides, but the coaches have come up against each other before in this competition. As players, Koeman and opposite number Paul Le Guen did battle in the 1995 quarter-finals for FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain FC respectively. Midfield player Le Guen got the better of Koeman, the imposing defender with the fearsome reputation, with PSG winning 3-2 on aggregate.

Fully fit
Le Guen, whose team are down to sixth place in Ligue 1 after a 1-0 weekend defeat by FC Nantes Atlantique, has the benefit of a full-strength squad to choose from on Tuesday night. Not surprisingly, they are the top scorers in France with 16 goals from seven games. One could do against Ajax, but Koeman has never been willing to give goals up easily.

Last updated: 17/09/02 16.47CET