National coach Andries Jonger’s first goal has been achieved. The Dutch national team will participate in the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20, 2023. For that, a 1-0 win against Iceland in the qualifiers in Utrecht was enough. However, it is very doubtful whether Orange will be able to participate in the main prize like in 2019. At the time, the Netherlands were runner-up in France after losing the final against the United States.
While other European nations such as England, France, Germany and Spain have visibly improved, the Dutch national team has not improved from three years ago. England won even with the Dutch How do you know Sarina Wiegmann and Arjan Werring won the European title in their home country. With this, the national coach and his assistant popularized women’s football in England, which happened after the European championship won by the Orange in the Netherlands in 2017.
The Netherlands continued their streak under Wiegman at the 2019 World Cup and confirmed that the team was ranked number one in the world. Last year, these ‘silver’ internationals failed to reward themselves with an Olympic medal at the Tokyo Games. This time, the aging United States looked set to break through in the quarterfinals, but Weickman’s team was eliminated after penalties.
After Sarina Wikmann moved to the English Football Association, the KNVB unnecessarily inconvenienced itself by claiming to be looking for ‘Sarina Plus’. In other words, a coach who can take Dutch women’s football to an even higher level. It was too much to ask of a new national coach. Too much, it turned out.
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After a long search, the KNVB found Englishman Mark Parsons, but he could never live up to the high expectations. Parsons never recovered from a false start, missing the start of the World Cup qualifiers. Parsons failed to build a new, successful organization before and after the European Championship and was sacked by the KNVB after being knocked out by France in the quarter-finals of the European Championship. The KNVB then ended up with Andries Jonker. A year ago, thanks to the ‘Sarina Plus’ character, a national coach wanted to be with Telstar’s men.
Jonker said he is now ready to work with women. “An enormous challenge,” he called his new job during his presentation at Zeist. Two weeks later, the last important qualifier took place in Group C against Iceland. Jonker was already certain that the Netherlands would qualify. “If you think you’re in the top ten in the FIFA world rankings, you should be confident you’ll qualify for the World Cup against Iceland.”
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Tuesday evening was a tough one at Galkenwaard Stadium in the atmosphere. Orange did not shine for a moment in a must-win fight. It turned into a sticky tussle in which the Netherlands increasingly looked for a liberating goal, while Iceland, backed by around two hundred supporters, were only interested in a draw. Esmee Brugts scored a free-kick in stoppage time – her 29th attempt for the Orange, who had already hit the bar three times.
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Jonker now wants more. The former head coach of Volendam, MVV, Willem II, Wolfsburg and Telstar men wants to achieve results with attacking football with the Orange girls. With this, he presents a heavy task in a country where the expectations of the national team are unrealistically high. 2017 and 2019 are attributed to Orange’s success.
Since then, the Dutch national team has been ready to replace old forces and develop new talent. This is not an easy process. For example, keeper Sari van Wienendal, based on his past, has continued to be liked despite a series of mistakes.
After an injury at the European Championships, the talented Daphne van Domselaar suddenly became a great substitute. The FC Twente goalkeeper proved again with a solid performance against Iceland on Tuesday evening that Van Wienendal has also now stopped playing football.
Jonker is in the mold along with keeper van Domselaar (22), central defender Domic Janssen (23), midfielder Jocki Kroenen (27) and striker Vivian Miedema (26). She has to slowly but surely match the youngsters in their thirties like Daniëlle van de Donk (31), Stefanie van der Gragt (30) and Sherida Spitse (32). Jonker brought on Esme Bruchts (19) and Fenna Kalma (22) for van de Donk and Spitze in the 65th minute. Brooks’ golden conversion ultimately ensured that the Netherlands could go directly to the World Cup.
Jonker must conclude that the Netherlands does not belong at the absolute top of the world. With the rise of professional leagues in four major European countries, the gap will widen rather than narrow. Those are the worries for now. Jonker will now first have to prepare the Dutch national team for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
A version of this article appeared in the September 7, 2022 issue of the newspaper
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