Orange women on their way to the World Cup, despite the terrible football in Minsk

Orange women on their way to the World Cup, despite the terrible football in Minsk

Meryl van Dongen maintains the overview, Anastasia Shlapakova of Belarus arrived too late to intercept her pass.Build Getty Images

Rarely has a sports team that has been highly praised in recent years fared as badly as Tuesday. Incoherent, slow, without confidence or creativity. New national coach, quiet-looking Briton Mark Parsons, looked sullen at his watch as time went on and could only be relieved in the 71st minute, when Lake Martins finally opened the score with an excellent shot.

The score 0-2 was the highlight of the evening, with a header from Daniel van de Donk, after a cross from substitute Julie Smits. Top scorer Vivian Midema did not travel to Minsk. You get rest.

The duo got off to a good start last Friday, with Cyprus-Netherlands (0-8). One moment: midfielder Van de Donk has in the penalty area in Cyprus, with a score of 0-6, no less than thirteen mostly technical balls in a row, near the back line, without the ball being touched by an opponent or teammate. This is usually impossible in the best football.

torment

She cuts, she turns, in short showing her dexterity, she returns the ball to Midema, which hits the post. It says something about the women’s national team’s opposition last week, first against weak Cyprus and on Tuesday against strong and slightly stronger Belarus, en route to the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. In a nearly empty stadium in Minsk, the Orange team narrowly won, playing with only three defenders and with Ajax player Viktoria Belova, who suffers from a major ball loss, for the first time in the starting team. Even the interval because then it was replaced. It’s agony, this match.

On paper, the Netherlands is the number one country, and fourth in the world rankings, mainly based on the names that have been defining the team’s strength for years. The Orange team started the series disappointingly against the Czech Republic (at home, 1-1). Then she started running, in terms of score, by defeating Iceland, on paper, the best opponent (16 in FIFA rankings) in the group, from Cyprus and thus from Belarus, while the Czech Republic lost 4-0 last Friday. in Iceland.

The sequel is next month, in a potentially difficult away match against the Czech Republic. Then in 2022 it will follow three more home matches against Cyprus, Belarus and Iceland. Only number 1 qualifies directly for the World Cup. It must be weird if they don’t make the first team and qualify for the World Championships for the third time in a row.

clumsy rendezvous

Most exciting is the performance of new national coach, Mark Parsons, who will combine two more jobs this year following the departure of Sarina Wegman for England. He joined shortly before the match against Cyprus, later than expected, due to something going wrong with his trip, after matches with the Portland Thorns in the US. It was a set of clumsy circumstances. Assistant Jessica Tourney is expected to get used to the job she will one day have.

‘It’s not a big deal,’ said quarterback Jackie Gronin, from a balcony in Larnaca, when news of Parsons’ postponement surfaced. Things like that happen in life. We are sane and mature enough to train ourselves. Also nice to work with Jessica and the crew. It’s not really that we don’t know if we should turn left or right.

In addition, Tourney can “smell a little” about national training. “I gain a lot of experience anyway.” After the Olympics, the team entered a new stage, football life without Wegmann, who won the European Championship in 2017 and the silver medal in the World Cup in 2019. The next European Championship, next year in England, has long been reached.

Other expectations

The disappointment of an unnecessary elimination during the Tokyo Games against the US multi-championship in the quarter-finals after a penalty shootout has largely been forgotten. “The first match after this tournament is often difficult, especially with a new coach and different expectations,” said defender Dominic Jansen van Wolfsburg, who was on the bench against Belarus. That is why it was unaffected by the 1-1 draw against the Czech Republic. “There is little time for sadness. In football, it is always going on.”

A lot is new for many international players, including the Champions League structure, for the first time with the groups. Jansen: We women are not used to that. We now have more competitions, and more travel. This means being one hundred percent in football. Sometimes I’m happy when I can relax for a while. It is hot. But I’m not worried about losing points against the Czech Republic. I am sure we will only qualify.

Partly due to moderate opposition, there isn’t much to see in Parsons’ realm of intentions. Jansen: ‘He wants to move the wings a little bit more to the middle, so the full-back can get past that. Then you have more players in the center, who are playing there in the small space. We have qualities for that.

By the way, this is not visible in Minsk, where almost everything goes, whether the rooms are large or small. Fortunately for the Orange team, there are two goals.

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