By Jeroen van Barneveld
22 July 2023 at 08:16
The Dutch national team does not want to dwell on the soap around the training field a day before the first World Cup match against Portugal. According to Sherida Spitse, the fiasco had no influence on the preparation.
“Enough has been said about the field,” said captain Spitse on Saturday at the press conference in Dunedin, where the Orange squad will start the World Cup on Sunday. “We are flexible as a group and have handled it well. We did it with the resources we have. Today we can train well. It’s not too bad for us.”
On arrival in Tauranga, the Netherlands discovered on Wednesday that there was a “dangerous” cricket plate under part of the training field. It led behind the scenes to a hard confrontation between the KNVB and FIFA.
The KNVB said that FIFA had twice promised the Orange team manager to remove the plate and that the world football association had not kept those promises. Outside the World Cup, the Orange field is a cricket field.
Since then, the Netherlands has deliberately trained around the offending part. That also happened on Friday, Jonker said. “We played nine against nine, on a field of 70 meters by 50 meters. That was the maximum. The stocking is now finished. I don’t want to think about it anymore. It’s about the game. We’re going to play football now.”
Sherida Spitse starts her seventh final tournament on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images
Jonker could not have everyone on Friday
Jonker said he was looking forward to Saturday’s training, which will be completed at 8.30 a.m. (Dutch time) on a field next to the stadium in Dunedin. The only question is whether all the players are there. Jonker said on Friday that he had not had everyone at his disposal.
The Netherlands-Portugal starts on Sunday at 9.30 am (Dutch time) and is played in Dunedin. With a win, the Orange takes a big step towards a place in the eighth finals. The United States (Thursday) and Vietnam (August 1) are the other opponents in the group stage.