Ajax target Europa League semifinal

AMSTERDAM: Ajax Amsterdam have set a semi-final place in the Europa League as their goal for the season after putting behind theirChampions League elimination with a strong start to the new Dutch season on Sunday.

The four-time European champions suffered Champions League elimination after a 3-2 defeat at home by Rapid Vienna of Austria last week.

After the 3-0 away victory at AZ Alkmaar on the opening weekend of the Dutch league, coach Frank de Boer said his young side can now aim for a long run this season in the secondary European competition.

"Our aim is to get to the semifinal of the Europa League," he told reporters. "I have a good feeling about this squad."

Ajax must first get past FK Jablonec of the Czech Republic before the group phase of the Europa League starts next month.

Sunday's victory offers renewed hope after the club was criticised for their transfer policy, the age of their squad and De Boer's coaching in the wake of the loss to Rapid.

"Of course there is pressure on the squad. It is disappointing that we can play on the highest level but there are three other prizes to win this season," he said in a reference to the Dutch league and cup and the Europa League.