One silly mistake: So close yet so far

It was an agonising end for the Netherlands as Kelly Zeeman’s blunder put them out of the Olympics in Rio.

Sweden have maintained their perfect record of qualifying for every Olympic football tournament thanks to Oranje player Kelly Zeeman. They will join France and Germany in Brazil. Oranje scored the first goal of the game through Vivianne Miedema as she handed the Dutch a surprise third minute lead. Olivia Scough got Sweden’s equalizer on the stroke of half-time as she latched onto Zeeman’s misplaced pass. A Dutch win would have sent the Netherlands to Rio.

But what did we learn on Wednesday?

1 – Van der Laan does not know his own players.

Arjan van der Laan’s selections and substitutions were very poor. Eredivisie top scorer Jill Roord was not part of the Olympic Qualifying team because he felt that she was not good enough. Moreover, Merel van Dongen – one of the best defenders in the Eredivisie – or Danique Kerkdijk should have started in defence against Sweden. They are better defenders than Kelly Zeeman who can do a better job in midfield (we saw that in the Norway game). Her defence splitting pass set up Manon Melis for Oranje’s goal against Norway.

Only God knows why Arjan took Manon Melis off when she was the main source of goals and a bigger threat than Shanice van de Sanden who decided not to show up.

Arjan is in the wrong sport!


2 – Miedema needs time to grow

Vivianne Miedema is a good footballer but she is not world class – Ada Hegerberg is! World class players decide games and she could not do that during the Qualifying Tournament, and especially against Sweden. She had some good chances to take the lead in a strong second-half display. She is still young and has a lot to learn to become one of the best in the game. Stop comparing Viv to Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben. She is a different type of player.


3- Janice is not the Shanice I know

New Liverpool signing Shanice van de Sanden was truly awful on Wednesday. She looked a shadow of the player she was last season. I wonder why Arjan van der Laan decided to keep her on the pitch for 90 minutes. She was beyond terrible and absolutely shambolic.

I hope Liverpool fans see a better Shanice because she can be an excellent player on her day.


4- Oranje missed its spine

The Dutch were dealt a big blow before the Olympics qualifiers after losing key players Lieke Martens and Stefanie van der Gragt through injury.

Liverpool defender Mandy van den Berg massively missed Stefanie van der Gragt at the back but I think Danique Kerkdijk had a good tournament, despite conceding some silly goals.

Lieke Martens’ absence was really felt as the team struggled and missed her her clinical finishing and pace down the wings. Jackie Groenen did a good job in the first game but could not replace Martens. Lieke’s partner in crime, Daniëlle van de Donk, felt the impact the most. She was frustratingly annoying and lost too many balls in midfield. The Arsenal midfielder’s decision making was very bad.


5 – Sherida Spitse is underrated

Sherida Spitse’s injury against Norway was a real blow and a big loss for the Netherlands. Oranje might have avoided that humiliating defeat if Sherida was fit that day. She is the link between Oranje’s defence and attack; ensuring balance in midfield. Sherida sees what other players don’t see on the field of play. She has an eye for the ball, her long range passing being her main weapon. The accuracy of her passing is amazing.

Together with Anouk Dekker and Daniëlle van de Donk, Spitse  should form one of the best midfields at the European Championship.

6- Do was Oranje’s best player

Dominique Janssen has gone from being a fringe player at the World Cup to a key defender fot this team. She was solid at the back and a threat going forward. Her move to Arsenal has done her a lot of good. The world is yet to see the best of Janssen.

Siri Worm would have to work very hard to reclaim her national team spot because Do is in Heaven.


7 – There is no substitute for experience

Champions League winner and Oranje’s top scorer at the World Cup and 2009 Euros, Kirsten van de Ven, could have been the missing piece to take Oranje to Rio. The FC Twente forward is a proven goal scorer and could have helped the team with her goals and experience. But the experienced forward has taken a break from the national team because of her reduced role in the team. I fully support her decision because she deserves more respect.


8 – Daphne Koster holds onto Euro 2017 dream

FOX Sports analyst and former Oranje captain, Daphne Koster, was speechless, in tears and very emotional after Oranje failed to qualify for Rio.

She still feels a big part of this team and she is yet to make a return to the national team after giving birth 2 years ago.

I think she has not given up hope of making the Netherland’s squad for the Euro 2017 finals. The team might need her experience and it would be the best way to end her career.

9 – The future is bright

The Eredivisie is miles behind other leagues and something has to be done if the Netherlands wants to compete with the rest of the world. Leaving the BeNe League was the best decision because it is not just about making up the numbers. The quality of the league is the most important thing.

The biggest positive is the emergence of young and exciting players like Jeslynn Kuijpers, Myrthe Moorrees, Inessa Kaagman, Danique Kerkdijk and Jill Roord, all of who will be challenging for a place at next year’s Euros. Right back Kika van Es’ return from a long-term injury was one of the positives for the team as Ajax midfielder Desiree van Lunteren can now play in her favourite position.

Oranje could be one of the teams to watch out for, with the future of Dutch football – Tessel Middag, Danique Kerkdijk, Jackie Groenen, Vivianne Miedema and Jill Roord – growing into key players.

10 – No one is perfect 

Sari van Veenendaal and Kelly Zeeman are both equally to blame for Oranje’s failure to qualify but no one is perfect. These things happen in football and it is not their fault.

Sari van Veenendaal made some great saves during the game. It will be very difficult for experienced goalkeeper Loes Geurts to reclaim her number 1 shirt. The Netherlands may have suffered heartache in their Rio 2016 Qualifier defeat to Sweden, but have turned doubters into believers.


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