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Van Basten to coach Ajax after European Championships
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Dutch soccer giant Ajax announced Friday that Marco van Basten will be its head coach after he quits the Dutch national team following the end of the European Soccer Championships in June.

Van Basten and his assistants in the national team, John van Schip and Rob Witschge, had all agreed to four-year contracts with the Amsterdam club.

The trio will take over Ajax on July 1, 2008. They will be presented to the media on March 5 at the club.

In the contracts, a mutual evaluation moment, which will take place after two seasons, has been included.

The three coaches were all former Ajax star players, and have been coaching the Dutch national side from 2005.

Ajax technical director Martin van Geel expressed his joy.

"We are very pleased. These are three ambitious coaches with an Ajax past, who all bring with them an international career as football players and the necessary experience as coaches," he said."Furthermore, it is good that we now have clarity concerning the coaching staff for the seasons to come."

This was the second major announcement from Ajax over the past three days.

On Tuesday, the club announced that legendary coach Johan Cruijff would return to the club to take charge of its football policy in a management reshuffle which will also see the departure of three members of the supervisory board by the end of this season.

The decision came one day after the investigation committee, under honorary Ajax member Uri Coronel, published a report criticizing the club's poor management and football policy for the under-performance of the club over the recent years, according to Dutch news agency ANP.

Ajax had been one of the most successfully clubs in Europe and the world, winning 64 major trophies, including 29 league titles, four European Champion Club's Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups. But its recent international success dates back to 1995 when it won the European Champion Club's Cup.

In the domestic battlefield, Ajax has been eclipsed by arch rival PSV Eindhoven since 2004 when the club from Amsterdam won its last Dutch premier league title. In the current season, Ajax is 9 points behind PSV, the runaway leader.

To make things worse, Ajax suffered early exits from Europe this season. It was eliminated in the qualifying rounds of the European Champions League, and then was ousted in the first round of the UEFA Cup competition -- a worst record over the last 20 years for the club.

(Xinhua News Agency February 23, 2008)

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