As Wieffer walks onto the field for his Orange debut, realization hits: ‘This is bizarre’

As Wieffer walks onto the field for his Orange debut, realization hits: ‘This is bizarre’

NOS SoccerCustomized

Wieffer enjoyed Orange debut: ‘I did think for a moment: this is bizarre’

In an international week full of grumpiness, there was one Dutch national team player who still had a little fun. That was Oranje-debutant Mats Wieffer, who made his breakthrough at Feyenoord only three months ago, having played for Excelsior last season,

Wieffer was almost embarrassed about it, but admitted it anyway. Even in a week when his team was flat-rolled by the French team and had scored only three against Gibraltar, he had enjoyed it. “Yes, for me personally it was very nice. It was a fun week and nice to play with those guys.”

Against Gibraltar, Wieffer played (more than) creditably as a midfield controller. Against France he had watched the sweep with sorrow from the reserve bench, on which he should have taken a seat as one of the victims of the stomach flu wave.

Without that pesky virus, Wieffer would have already made his debut at the Stade de France. But despite that disappointment as well as the 4-0 defeat, the midfielder looks back on it with pride. “Sure that was all unpleasant, but I enjoyed being there. That you experienced everything.”

Not surprisingly, Wieffer also cherishes this week. When many of his teammates at Orange played the winter World Cup in Qatar, selection for the Dutch national team was still light years away for him.

How fast it has gone for him, Wieffer only really realized when he walked into De Kuip a little past 8:30. “Then I did think for a moment: this is bizarre. In the soccer world, everything comes in such quick succession that you often don’t stop to think about things. But when I walked onto the field, I did have a moment when I thought: if you had predicted this three months ago, I would have called you crazy.”

Van Dijk balks at sloppiness

Virgil van Dijk would not call the past international period with the Dutch national team a bad week. But it was anything but pleasant: the 3-0 victory over Gibraltar did little to alleviate the sour taste left by the Dutch team after the fiasco at France (4-0 defeat).

“Interesting,” Van Dijk was willing to call the week, shortly after the game with Gibraltar. The captain was mainly referring to the many cancellations of injured or sick internationals.

Van Dijk balks after difficult evening Orange: ‘You can hardly do it right’

“That’s also part of life, that such things happen,” Van Dijk said. “You have to deal with that then and it was also no excuse for the poor performance we delivered in France.”

Against Gibraltar, the victory for the Orange was never in danger, but it all went a little less smoothly than hoped. The already almost calculated goal-fest did not materialize.

“We were still sloppy in ball possession,” Van Dijk explained. “It was a very difficult night, you want to play them to pieces, but then you have to be economical in possession of the ball. That has to be improved next period.”

Aké hoped for hat trick

Nathan Aké was one of Orange’s sparse bright spots in the match against France. Against Gibraltar, the defender scored two of the three goals. “I haven’t managed that much more often,” he smiled after the match. “At one point you even start hoping for that hat trick, which would have been the first in my career.”

About his own performance, Aké, who has also regularly excelled at his club Manchester City this season, was satisfied. But happy with last week, he was not either. “When you suffer a 4-0 defeat, you can never be satisfied, regardless of your own play. But I am convinced that with this coach we are going in a good direction and from the summer we can build further.”

Watch reactions from Nathan Aké, Matthijs de Ligt and Memphis Depay, who was out injured against Gibraltar.

Kayleigh Williams