African All Stars

Haller: In-form Cote d’Ivoire forward strikes again but Kudus-less Ajax suffer shock defeat

22:52 EAT 12/12/2021
Sebastian Haller, Ajax
The Ivorian was on the score sheet as the Lancers took on AZ in Eredivisie action on Sunday

Cote d’Ivoire striker Sebastien Haller continued his fine form for Ajax with a goal in their 2-1 home loss to AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie on Sunday.

Arguably in the form of his life, the former West Ham attacker added to his goal tally for the Lancers this season but strikes from Vangelis Pavlidis and Morocco youngster Zakaria Aboukhlal ensured three points for the away side in the matchday 16 tie at Johan Cruyff Stadium.

Despite the defeat, Ajax still hold the top spot on the league table. However, they have now been leveled on points by Feyenoord who held Groningen to a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

AZ are, meanwhile, eighth on the league table.

Haller, who is also in a remarkable scoring run in the Champions League, has now netted 10 times in 15 Eredivisie outings for Erik ten Hag’s outfit this term, making the starting XI in each of the games. In addition, he has four assists to his name.

Visiting AZ were the first to score in Sunday’s game, breaking the deadlock after a barren first half through Pavlidis, who put the ball at the back of the net on the assist of Fredrik Midtsjo in the 50th minute.

On 73 minutes, Haller hit back for the hosts, tapping home from close range after captain Dusan Tadic put it on a plate for him to finish.

Seven minutes to full-time, the away side silenced the Johan Cruyff Arena with a cool finish by substitute Aboukhlal, who was set up by Owen Wijndal. It was the Moroccan’s third league goal of the season.  

On the bench for Ajax was Cameroon No.1 goalkeeper Andre Onana, who is yet to regain his starting spot in Ten Hag’s set-up following a return from a long suspension.

Ghana midfielder Mohammed Kudus was completely missing from the Lancers’ matchday squad due to injury. Morocco duo Noussair Mazraoui and Zakaria Labyad were also not listed for the game.

Netherlands youth star of Ghanaian descent Ernest Poku was an unused substitute by AZ.

Haller, Onana and Labyad are expected to feature for Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Morocco, respectively, at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations finals.