STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Europa League final should have been a “football feast” but has been inevitably overshadowed by the bomb attack in Manchester which killed 22 people, Ajax coach Peter Bosz has said.
Speaking to a news conference at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Bosz opened by offering his condolences and those of the Dutch club to the victims and their families of Monday’s attack.
“What happened yesterday in Manchester was something that we all feel. On behalf of the players, staff and everyone at Ajax, we would like to express our sympathy with the victims that unfortunately fell,” he said.
“The feeling that prevails for me is that the final doesn’t have this glow that it should have. Tomorrow evening should be a football feast, but because of the events in Manchester we are all affected.”
Monday’s attack following an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester has plunged the city into mourning.
“I think about a week, ten days ago she (Grande) was in Amsterdam and the wives of the players went to the concert with their children, so it’s something that really touches us,” the 53-year-old said.
UEFA announced that the game would be preceded by a minute’s silence for the victims and that the planned opening ceremony would be scaled back.
Manchester United cancelled their planned press conference, instead taking a walk around the pitch before adjourning to their hotel, and Bosz declined to answer when asked if he would have liked the game to be postponed, saying that such decisions were outside of his control.
Bosz believes that when the game finally gets underway his young side have a chance against one of Europe’s richest clubs.
“I think we only have a chance to beat Manchester if we play our own game. We have developed a way of playing this season that I always call the Ajax way of playing,” he said.
“Tomorrow, if we are capable of playing our way, we have a chance.”
Bosz’s youthful charges will also benefit from the experience of some of Ajax’s 1995 Champions League-winning side.
“The young players are blessed because a lot of those players are still working at Ajax,” he explained.
“We have Edwin Van der Sar, Marc Overmars, Dennis Bergkamp is one of the assistant coaches, we have other players working in the youth academy,” he said.
Reporting by Philip O'Connor