Young national team begins EC mission that leads past Vieira, Bakayoko and Kvaratskhelia
Follows Jong Oranje on behalf of NOS
Follows Jong Oranje on behalf of NOS
Anyone who thinks of Jong Oranje undoubtedly often thinks back to its heyday under Foppe de Haan. European champions in 2006 and 2007, with guys like Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Royston Drenthe. A bulk of talent.
Unworthy of the Netherlands
And then it collapsed. The next two European Championships were played without the Netherlands. In 2013, under Cor Pot and with players like Daley Blind, Kevin Strootman and Georginio Wijnaldum, there was a brief revival with a semifinal place.
In the three subsequent European Championships, Jong Oranje again failed to qualify. Soccer country the Netherlands unworthy. Under Erwin van de Looi, who is leaving as national coach after the EC, they did succeed.
Jong Oranje was there two years back, when the European Championship was played in two phases because of the corona virus. There was criticism in the group stage after two ties, but after a convincing 6-1 win over Hungary, with Cody Gakpo as the standout, Jong Oranje still took the group win.
Two months later, when the knockout stage was played, Jong Oranje defeated title favorite France in the quarterfinals. Myron Boadu made up for a counter-goal by Dayot Upamecano with two goals. On the way to the final, Germany proved too strong.
Class of 2023
Anno 2023 Boadu is out of sight and Jong Oranje also looks very different. From the game against Germany, logically also because of the age limit, there is no more base player.
Still, the current selection of the Jong Oranje certainly has sticklers. Think of Ryan Gravenberch of Bayern Munich. Or Kenneth Taylor, the Ajacied who already experienced a World Cup with the big Oranje. And Micky van de Ven, who may hope for a top transfer after a strong season with VfL Wolfsburg.
Under the crossbar, much is expected from Bart Verbruggen, the Anderlecht sensation, who was also already noticed by Ronald Koeman. With Ajax striker Brian Brobbey and Toulouse top scorer (and cup winner) Thijs Dallinga, there is a lot of scoring power in the squad.
Crysensio Summerville, Leeds’ number 10, has some action up his sleeve. And then you have Q&Q: Quinten Timber and Quilindschy Hartman, the Feyenoorders who will report to the Zeister woods with their chests out as national champions.
In contrast, the absence of regular wing defenders Mitchel Bakker and Jeremie Frimpong, Bayer Leverkusen’s backs, usually one of Jong Oranje’s weapons with their speed on the flank. Frimpong thanked. So did Bakker initially, then changed his mind and was too late.
Pool of death
A loss for Van de Looi, as he could have used the two experienced forces well in the group stage, in which a lot will be asked of the Netherlands right from the start. Young Oranje is in the toughest group.
In it the opponents are the peers of Portugal, Belgium and host country Georgia. Both the Portuguese and the Belgians, like the Netherlands, report to this European Championship after an undefeated qualifying series.
Young Portugal’s selection includes such familiar names as Ajacied Francisco Conceição and Fábio Silva, the PSV mercenary who shot the winning penalty in the cup final. Arsenal midfielder Fábio Vieira is their main player.
Among our southern neighbors, AC Milan talent Charles De Ketelaere, PSV outfielder Johan Bakayoko and Michel-Ange Balikwisha, standout at champion and cup winner Antwerp, are on the list.
Two contenders for the European title as competitors in the group. And then it seems that Young Georgia also has at their disposal Napoli sensation Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who should become the big star and crowd pleaser of the European Championship.
Fitness of importance
In short: opposition will be there. And so Young Orange must be top to survive the group. Being fit is an important criterion. It was not for nothing that a six already trained with the big squad in recent days.
Sepp van den Berg, Ian Maatsen, Devyne Rensch, Timber and goalkeepers Verbruggen and Jasper Schendelaar. They experienced a season with some injuries or finished their games early. After three days with the Orange, they became fitter again.
The rest were deliberately given time off by Van de Looi. To clear their heads after a long season. To arrive in Zeist fresh and fruity and in a good mood. By the way, they will only be there for one day, before the plane leaves for training camp.
Near Graz, in the south of Austria, they will be honing their playing system, fitness and team building. Also to get used to the Georgian conditions, where it will be around 30 degrees.
However, in that respect they would have been better off staying in the Netherlands. In Austria it will be about 21 degrees with a shower, while in Zeist the sun is working overtime. But who could have predicted that?