On Sunday, August 6, the Netherlands walked onto Sydney Football Stadium to face South Africa for the chance to play in the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals. Despite some early threats from South Africa, Orange Leeuwinnen (Dutch Lionesses) eventually took control of the match and left with a comfortable 2-0 victory over their opponents.
The victory ensures that the dream to lift the World Cup is still very much on for manager Andries Jonker’s squad.
It did not take long for the Netherlands to apply pressure. An Esmee Brugts’ chance was pushed out for a corner and the ensuing cross would prove costly for South Africa as Jill Roord headed in from close range to make it 1-0 in the 9th minute.
Roord has been one of the best players in the tournament, scoring her fourth goal in the cup while providing her regular control of the midfield.
South Africa did not allow an early Dutch lead to deter them and they continuously pushed for an equalizer. The captain and star player of South Africa, Thembi Kgatlana, seemed hell-bent on carrying her nation to the next round all by herself, forcing save after save from Dutch keeper Daphne van Domselaar.
Heading into the second half, it appeared the game was far from over as South Africa continued to threaten the Dutch goal. Against the run of play, Lieke Martens played a pass forward toward Lineth Beerensteyn, whose tame effort was somehow fumbled by South Africa’s goalkeeper to give the Netherlands a 2-0 lead in the 68th minute.
Orange Leeuwinnen proceeded to dominate the remainder of the match, even scoring once again before the goal was ruled offside. They had a total of 70% of the possession and completed almost three times the amount of passes their opposition did.
Not a memorable night for Sherida Spitse
Although it was a night to celebrate for the Netherlands, Friesian-born captain Sherida Spitse was far from happy with her performance.
“I did get angry,” Spitse told the NOS. Tasked with playing in defense instead of her usual position in midfield, Spitse had a torrid time defending against the speed of South Africa’s attackers.
None would prove more lethal than Kgatlana, who constantly ran past Spitse in the first half to create chances for her side. In the end, Spitse can count her lucky stars that goalkeeper Van Domselaar was on stellar form.
She must now put this performance behind her as she aims to become the first Dutch captain regardless of gender to lift the prestigious World Cup trophy.
One less match before World Cup glory
The convincing win for the Netherlands leaves them with only three games left to win if they wish to lift the coveted World Cup trophy. Following the USA’s shock departure at the hands of Sweden, Oranje Leeuwinnen has to be considered among the favorites to win the whole tournament as the finalist of the 2019 edition.
Their next match will truly prove at what level the Netherlands are. They face an impressive Spain side that is coming off a 5-1 win over Switzerland in their Round of 16 matchup. The quarter-finals between the two will be played on Friday, August 11, in the Wellington Regional Stadium at 3 a.m. CEST time.