A lot has suddenly happened in the Jong Oranje camp in recent days. The ill Alessia Norbiato was replaced at the last minute by Noa Muller. An early goal against Australia. The first loss of points (2-2) in a match where that was not actually necessary . Yes, the tournament has really started now.
Things suddenly moved quickly less than 24 hours before the confrontation with Australia. When Noa Muller entered the hockey stadium in Santiago on Tuesday afternoon for the last training before the start of the World Cup, she was still a reserve. Not anymore a few minutes later after breaking in. Then suddenly she was part of the competition selection.
Muller: ‘It was quite hectic. We were catching up. Then I was called in. Dave [Smolenaars] said I was going to replace Alessia. He should have made that decision quickly. I immediately sympathized with Alessia. She is a friend of mine, we play hockey together in Amsterdam. I feel terrible for her. Really very sad. I had to switch things off right away. But when the training started, my mind wasn’t quite there. I actually only turned the switch in the evening. In the end I was ready in time for the match.’
The last training before the start of the world championship was about to start. But the Jong Oranje internationals now had to deal with this blow first. After Muller was informed, the news was told to the rest of the team, says defender Mikki Roberts. ‘Of course we all wanted to go to her. But we also had to take her virus into account. So that made hugging her difficult. Fortunately, we were able to comfort her. We sympathize with her in that way. You don’t wish this on anyone.’
For the vast majority of us, this was their World Cup debut. This is something different from those practice matches in recent days. Defender Mikki Roberts
Until this moment, the preparation had gone smoothly. Confidence was built against the United States in a practice match (7-0). They even reached ten against New Zealand (10-0). It has brought smiling faces to the players of the Dutch Juniors in recent days.
But now suddenly it was as if everything was different. The Netherlands was unrecognizable in the first quarter against Australia. As smoothly as the ball went from stick to stick in the practice match against New Zealand, the game was now difficult. It seemed as if there was tension in the muscles. Australia also pushed in the first corner of the match after twelve minutes: 0-1.
Defender Mikki Roberts explained the weak start as follows: ‘I think we may have underestimated the tension. Don’t know. But I think so. I don’t know why we started off so weak otherwise. Maybe we thought about it a little too lightly beforehand. For the vast majority of us, this was their World Cup debut. This is something different from those practice matches in recent days.’
I’m disappointed about the draw. But no man has fallen overboard yet. Defender Mikki Roberts
A positive aspect of the match is that the Netherlands recovered. The Dutch Juniors dominated a large part of the remaining three quarters. Dave Smolenaars’ team created a few good chances. Attacker Guusje Moes scored the 1-1 from the turn. Trijntje Beljaars converted a penalty corner three minutes before the end, making it 2-2. It was also quite good defensively. Australia won two corners from which they scored twice. All things considered, that was the only danger they created.
But plenty went wrong too. Too many passes were intercepted, after which Australia was able to counter. The Netherlands received the green three times. As a result, the organization at the back was sometimes not good. After a green card in the 52nd minute, the Dutch Juniors gave away a penalty corner for the second time. The score was 2-1, after a shot from the rebound. It was positive that the Netherlands then showed resilience and Trijntje Beljaars eventually pushed in the 2-2.
Roberts: ‘I’m disappointed about the draw. We handed in far too many balls at the back. Myself too. We have to look at that critically. But nothing is happening yet. Because we made it 2-2, we ended the match with a reasonably good feeling. We can learn from this. There is no man overboard. Tomorrow [Thursday at 10:30 PM Dutch time] we play another match, against South Africa. We still have everything in our own hands.’