The Dutch Juniors can prepare for the battle for fifth place at the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur. On Thursday they won with character against Argentina, which, like the Netherlands, had not survived its quarter-final. Dylan Lucieer scored the only goal for Jesse Mahieu’s formation in the third quarter, 1-0. We will know later in the day who will be the next opponent of the Dutch Juniors.
Of course, they could also really mourn the lost quarter-final (4-3) against India last Tuesday. A defeat that cut through and ruined the medal ambitions. They gave themselves time for that. But on Wednesday, on the day of rest, it was increasingly the case that ‘the next one’ was chosen instead of ‘the previous one’.
And the next one was Argentina. Precisely the team that eliminated the Netherlands from the previous World Cup, in 2021 in Bhubaneswar. Five players from the current selection – Menno Boeren, Olivier Hortensius, Guus Jansen, Casper van der Veen and Luke Dommershuijzen – also suffered a scar there in the quarter-finals. Today it was not possible to get into the match quickly.
Argentina was the most dominant team in the first quarter, but that did not lead to much danger. Only a shot from Nicolas Rodriguez was worth mentioning. The Netherlands looked cautious and expectant, but not at all restless. A good chance came after fifteen minutes when Pepijn van der Heijden was allowed to score the first corner.
But Argentina once again showed that it can defend very well. Golden Olympian Juan Gilardi’s team did not concede a goal in the group stage. That only happened in the quarter-final against Germany, which the South Americans lost 2-1. Afterwards there was a riot, in which many players were involved. This meant that the tournament’s disciplinary committee had to work hard on Wednesday. This did not lead to suspensions. All aggression was covered with the cloak of love.
The first half between the Netherlands and Argentina was certainly not aggressive. Yet it rained cards, not for the first time in this tournament. The referees from New Zealand and Japan handed out no fewer than five green cards in the first half hour. It partly ensured that the Netherlands temporarily found itself with nine players in Q2.
Two players appeared on the field at halftime. Reserve player Jacky van Hout and second goalkeeper Nieki Verbeek, who was played by his teammate from Oranje-Rood. That was not random. Verbeek replaced Daan Taphoorn in the third quarter, who had kept everything so far in this tournament. He immediately had to work on an Argentinian shooting opportunity, which also led to a corner. This was neatly completed by Boris Aardenburg. On the other side, the first chance of the third quarter was taken. Dylan Lucieer made his first of the tournament from close range, after a nice assist – from the turn – from Jan van ‘t Land: 1-0.
It made the South Americans a little more fervent. Shortly after the opening goal, the dethroned champion reacted furiously when Guus Jansen pushed him. Immediately two or three players were on the spot to show their anger. But the fire also created opportunities. Two corners, for example, about ten minutes before the end. They were broken by the Netherlands, which looked much more stable today than against India. They were simply slower to lay eggs. The valleys were also less deep in phases when it was not running.
As a result, the Dutch Juniors will play for fifth place on Saturday on the final day of the tournament. And perhaps more importantly: they can pat themselves on the back. The hangover from the quarter-finals has not completely disappeared yet. But the first bad aftertaste is already gone.