AFC Ajax begin their bid to add the UEFA Europa League title to their mighty European haul with a Group A tie against continental greenhorns FC Timişoara, whose coach knows plenty about Dutch football.
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Former UEFA Cup winners AFC Ajax kick off their bid to add the UEFA Europa League title to their mighty European haul with a Group A tie against continental greenhorns FC Timişoara, whose coach knows plenty about Dutch football.
• The two sides have never met in European competition, and this is also Ajax's first match against a Romanian club and Timişoara's maiden meeting with Dutch opponents.
• Ajax played in two editions of the UEFA Cup group stage and made it through to the last 32 in 2006/07 and to the last 16 in the competition's final edition.
• Timişoara have never played in the group stage of a UEFA club competition, nor did FC Politehnica Timişoara, the previous big club in the Romanian city.
• Ajax are unbeaten in their last six European home games, with three draws and three victories. The last team to beat them at the Amsterdam ArenA - albeit after added-time - were NK Dinamo Zagreb, 3-2 winners in a UEFA Cup first round game on 4 October 2007.
• Timişoara are yet to win an away game in UEFA's club competitions, having lost one and drawn two of their three fixtures abroad since first entering Europe last season.
• Ajax coach Martin Jol faced Romanian opposition with two of his former clubs. His Hamburger SV side eliminated FC Unirea Urziceni in last term's UEFA Cup first round, winning 2-0 away after a 0-0 draw at home. Two seasons previously, Jol's Tottenham Hotspur FC outfit beat FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti 3-1 in the group stage of the same competition.
• Timişoara coach Ioan Ovidiu Sabău, a former Romanian international midfielder, has a decent record in his five away games as a coach in Europe, recording a win, three draws and just one defeat.
• The Timişoara coach played for Ajax's Eredivisie rivals Feyenoord from 1990-92. His three league games against Ajax – who featured Jol's assistants Danny Blind and John van 't Schip – all ended in defeat but his side beat the Amsterdam club 1-0 in the quarter-finals en route to claiming a second successive Dutch Cup in 1992.
• Sabău last played in the Netherlands with FC Rapid Bucureşti, drawing 1-1 in a UEFA Cup game at BV Vitesse on 17 September 2002. It was his last game in UEFA club competition as a player. Sabău also played for Romania in a 2-0 friendly defeat in the Netherlands in 1998.
• Ajax boast Romanian talent in the form of defender George Ogarăru, who joined from FC Steaua Bucureşti in 2006 and spent last season back on loan at the club.
• Ajax visit RSC Anderlecht on Matchday 2, while Timişoara are at home against NK Dinamo Zagreb on the same night, 1 October.