Nov 27, 2023 at 8:50 PM Update: 3 minutes ago
The battle for group victory in the Nations League seemed to be between the Netherlands and England in advance, but in the last week Belgium is also fully participating. A surprise for many, but national coach Andries Jonker is not surprised.
“That Belgium would not participate was mainly the opinion of the Dutch media,” Jonker said on Monday in the Woudschoten hotel. The Dutch team is preparing for the final group matches against England (Friday) and Belgium (Tuesday) in Zeist this week.
The Dutch national team is the leader after four games, ahead of Belgium (two points less) and England (three points less). All three countries are still in the race for a group win and therefore a chance of an Olympic ticket. Belgium, which is eighteenth in the FIFA rankings, did not appear to be a candidate for the knockout phase on paper.
Unjustified, says Jonker. “Before the first match against Belgium, I was asked whether we were going to work on our goal difference. I said that we had to win first.” That didn’t work: the Dutch team unfortunately lost 2-1.
“Belgium is an extremely tough opponent. Sarina (Wiegman, ed.) and I have constantly said that Belgium is not an easy opponent. Only the Dutch media generally thought so. That doesn’t bother me, but now it appears that Sarina and I being right.”
The Dutch team completed its first training on Monday in a rainy Zeist. Photo: ANP
No fewer than nine attackers in the selection
Jonker has selected no fewer than nine attackers for the last two matches of the Dutch team. With Shanice van de Sanden and Romée Leuchter, there are two extra attackers compared to the previous international period. “They’re not all going to play at the same time,” Jonker joked.
“You think about all the scenarios that can be put on the table. We have now brought along as many strikers as possible who fit into the different scenarios. We have a number of players who are all good at something different. I would prefer Fenna (Kalma, ed. ) was also selected, but then I really fall short somewhere.”
The Dutch national team will play against England coach Sarina Wiegman at Wembley on Friday. The match starts at 8:45 PM. On Tuesday, the Dutch team will take on Belgium in the King Willem II Stadium in Tilburg.
Standings group A
Netherlands 4-9 (+5) Belgium 4-7 (+1) England 4-6 (0) Scotland 4-1 (-6)