Perhaps someone else could score with the Orange Women’s team, as Vivianne Miedema suggested after a meager 1-1 against the Czech Republic. Orange’s top scorer was immediately promoted to the next international match. Without goals from the striker, the Netherlands won the important World Cup qualifier against Iceland.
Midfielder Jackie Gronin was the lady of the match who scored a goal and made in Reykjavik, where football was not easy to play due to the intensity of the pitch and strong winds. In the 23rd minute I found Daniel van de Donk with a nice cross pass, who turned and shot into the right corner. In the second half, Gronin shot himself superbly from about twenty metres.
This win is a relief to newly appointed national team coach Mark Parsons. On paper, Iceland is one of the toughest contenders in the group, with the country occupying 16th place in the FIFA world rankings. In Friday’s debut, the Orange Women’s team were disappointed 1-1 against the Czech Republic (27th place). Only at the last stage did Vivian Miedema manage to create an equaliser.
Parsons changed only one woman compared to that match. Right winger Shanice van der Zanden was not in the starting line-up, as was defensive midfielder Sherida Spetsey. But this change led to more changes in the situation. It gave space to midfielders Jackie Gronin and Jill Rurd to play more offensively. And Danielle van de Donk, swerving from the right, popped up all over the place. In any case, there was more change of place up front, which made the game less predictable.
The Icelanders also wanted to do more than just defend, which also created room for a dip. Occasionally, the home team became more dangerous on Sari van Veenendaal’s goal, but defensive errors were not punished this time.
Opportunities are in your hands
After winning in Reykjavik, the Netherlands keep all chances of qualifying for the tournament in Australia and New Zealand in 2023. Parsons also gets more time to get to know the team. This is welcome, because in the coming months he will be moving between Europe and America, where he is still coach of the Portland Thorns.
At the end of October, the Orange team will play two matches away from home, but they will be against the two weak sisters in the group. Belarus (53rd in the world ranking) and Cyprus (126th) should not be a problem for the Netherlands, which itself ranks fourth. The first leg against the Czech Republic will follow at the end of November, with the last three matches in April and September next year.
The 35-year-old Briton has succeeded her coach Sarina Wegman after the Olympics in Japan, who is now coaching English women. Under her leadership, the Netherlands won the European Championship in 2017 and lost the World Cup final to the United States two years later. Also in the games, which Canada eventually won, that country was very strong. With his American experience, Parsons must help orange women narrow the gap.
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