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Mido back in Ajax fold

Published: Tuesday 25 February 2003, 18.53CET
Mido was named in the AFC Ajax squad to face Arsenal FC after making up with Ronald Koeman.

Tournament statistics

AjaxArsenal

Goals scored14
 
15
Attempts on target57
 
64
Attempts off target97
 
71
Corners71
 
62
Offsides50
 
40
Fouls committed288
 
180
Yellow cards33
 
11
Red cards3
 
1

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Published: Tuesday 25 February 2003, 18.53CET

Mido back in Ajax fold

Mido was named in the AFC Ajax squad to face Arsenal FC after making up with Ronald Koeman.

By Theo Ruizenaar

Ronald Koeman, the coach of UEFA Champions League Group B leaders AFC Ajax, has included Ahmed Hossam 'Mido' in his squad to face Arsenal at the Amsterdam ArenA on Wednesday, despite the Egyptian international's recent relegation to the club's youth side.

Air cleared
Mido was demoted following a disagreement over his failure to show up for a sponsors' event, but, after a request from technical director Leo Beenhakker, Koeman organised a meeting with all parties. "The squad came to me to talk about the whole situation," the coach said. "Mido apologised to the group and to me. For me there was no longer any reason to ban him. I took this decision because it is the best for the club."

De Jong set to start
Nigel de Jong, who scored Ajax's goal in last week's 1-1 draw at Highbury, was rested for Sunday's 1-0 defeat at FC Utrecht, but should start in midfield, while Wesley Sneijder looks set to be rested. Hatem Trabelsi, Tomáš Galásek and Petri Pasanen missed training on Monday, but all three should be fit to face Arsenal.

Too soon for Van der Vaart
USA international John O'Brien will make his comeback for Ajax after a long period of absence, but for Rafael van der Vaart, who has a knee and thigh problem, the match may come too early. "We have to be very cautious with Rafael," Koeman said. "I was slightly shocked when I saw he had played 80 games in his first two seasons. The problem is that his skills can win us games even if he is only at 80 per cent."

Kanu missing
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger will be without former Ajax star Nwankwo Kanu, who has a strained thigh muscle, but David Seaman and Ashley Cole, who missed Saturday's 5-1 demolition of Manchester City FC, have travelled with the squad. The Gunners have won three of their four Champions League away matches this season, while five home appearances have delivered one win, three draws and one defeat.

'"A very talented team"
Wenger was keen to play down the pre-match talk of Mido's inclusion. "Ajax are a very talented team who have a good approach and football education. Their players are very versatile and they will be a great side one day. We don't calculate or stipulate about how another team will play. As long as we play well and achieve out maximum we can beat Ajax even if they have one, two or three strikers. We won't be influenced by how many attackers they play."

Keown confident
Veteran defender Martin Keown was also confident ahead of the game but admits that he and his team-mates must not take another away success for granted. "We have grown in the Champions League over the last four or five years and this year we are doing a little better. It's difficult to switch between our domestic competition and the Champions League and we need to make sure that we get it right tomorrow."

Trio tied
Ajax, Arsenal and third-placed Valencia CF all have five points going into Wednesday's fixtures, with AS Roma yet to win a point in the second group stage.

Last updated: 26/02/03 21.13CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2002/matches/round=1637/match=1038252/prematch/preview/index.html#mido+back+ajax+fold

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