Casparij has ‘grown a lot’ at Manchester City and is ready for World Cup

Casparij has ‘grown a lot’ at Manchester City and is ready for World Cup

NOS Football

Kerstin Casparij reported to the Oranje training camp this week with a very different feeling than a year ago. Back then, before the European Championship, she was still a wing defender at FC Twente. Meanwhile, after a dream transfer, she has completed her first season with Manchester City and is ready for the World Cup.

‘Wingback’ Casparij has ‘grown a lot’ after a year at Manchester City

“I’ve grown a lot, in a lot of ways,” 22-year-old Casparij says. The English Women’s Super League has received a big boost since England’s European title, and Manchester City – which finished fourth – is world-class in terms of facilities anyway.

It’s a step up from FC Twente, the club where she played between 2020 and 2022 and became a two-time national champion.

“Manchester City is a lot of technical soccer and I grew a lot in that. That’s what I wanted too, to play a lot of soccer and be on the ball a lot. And also physically it’s all just a little bit different than in the Netherlands. So I’m a lot fitter, I can run a lot more.”

Only real wingback

And a lot of running, which is an important trait for a so-called wingback. Because Casparij can perhaps be called Holland’s only true wingback.

Kerstin Casparij

“Well, maybe so,” says Casparij. “Lynn Wilms does play a lot at wingback at Wolfsburg, too, but yeah, maybe.”

So the two-legged Casparij knows exactly what a wingback should be able to do. “A lot of running,” she laughs. “You have to cover a whole side, so a lot of mileage. You have to be there defensively and offensively. So quite a lot is asked of you.”

Ensuring base spot?

It seems likely that national coach Andries Jonker will play with a 5-3-2 formation at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next month. And that would be good news for a wingback like Casparij. “I’m not dissatisfied with that. But also at 4-3-3 I was already allowed to join, for me there are spots at both systems,” she put into perspective.

Kerstin Casparij in action for City in December derby against Manchester United

Still, Casparij is not sure of a starting spot. At the last practice match in April against Poland (4-1 win), national coach Jonker tried with Victora Pelova and Esmee Brugts as wing defenders. Does that worry Casparij?

“No, not really. The girls were given a chance and have done very well. I know what I can do and I’m confident. At the end of the day, it’s the coach’s choice.”

Kind of basic team

At Tuesday’s training session, there also seemed to be a sort of base team to play against the rest, although Dominique Janssen, Lineth Beerensteyn and Jill Roord joined the Orange later and Stefanie van der Gragt remained sidelined with knee problems. And also on Tuesday, Pelova and Brugts formed the wingbacks of Orange.

Casparij remains calm and confident even with that knowledge: “It’s still a month away. The World Cup doesn’t start until the 23rd and then I want to be there. How am I going to do that? By showing what I can do. I already did that last year, both here and at the club. I just have to show it again and do my best. Then I’ll be fine.”

Kayleigh Williams