The group phase at the World Cup has come to an end and the Orange has made it to the quarterfinals with three victories and goal scores 22-0. A good moment to look back with national coach Jeroen Delmée on the three games played in India. What went well, what could be improved and what dangers are still lurking?
Jeroen, did you expect it to be this easy?
Jeroen Delmée: ‘The group stage was definitely better than expected. You don’t quite know what to expect anyway. Chile for example. We practised against that team at the end of December. It wasn’t as easy then as it is now. I expected more from New Zealand. They didn’t give home. So it was easy for us against those countries and also Malaysia.’
Wouldn’t you rather have had a real test?
“The crossovers will show whether we are really good, or whether our competition was less. All in all, I’m happy with how it turned out. You just have to make it to the quarterfinals. But there is a danger in it. That it went too easy. You have to be there during the quarterfinals. Then you have to be sharp and then you can no longer afford the mistakes. In retrospect, it would have been nice if we had tested a bit more. Perhaps an opponent could have exposed things that were not going well. That has to come from ourselves. We are keen on it. Remain critical of the points for improvement. That’s all we can do. ‘
“Other teams have been tested, but I dare say that our approach is good. You also want to go into the quarterfinals with confidence and a good feeling. That’s okay. We couldn’t have done more than this.’
What could be even better in your opinion?
‘Where things went wrong with the last pass in the duels with Malaysia and New Zealand, it worked against Chile. We are already doing a lot of good. Only the last moment, that could be better. It was fine for the start of the tournament. Not everything went as it should against Chile either. I thought our first half was a lot less. The second half was good. And make fourteen in all.’
Fourteen goals.. which was the best in your opinion?
‘I liked the counter through the ash best. The ninth goal. With Derck de Vilder, Thierry Brinkman and Koen Bijen. That goal reflected the spirit of the team. We give each other a lot. Give each other the goals. Even against Chile too much. Tjep Hoedemakers, for example, could really have gone himself at times. That shows how we are in it.’
“That goal shows how much power we have in the transition. With that much speed, I’m sure we can hurt any team. The smaller one, but certainly also the big one.’
The only blemish is the injury of Jonas de Geus, how is he?
‘He had problems with his knee during the warm-up against Chile. I didn’t let him play as a precaution. I don’t want to take any chances with it. He is the hinge of our team. Is important to us. Is getting better, is important on the ball, plays well from the organization in midfield. Jonas is the man in that spot right now. I think it will be fine, because he is important for a good continuation of the tournament.’
The quarterfinals are a fact. Are you counting down the days until Wednesday?
‘Now it begins. Everyone is back to zero. We’re in it quietly, but that’s also the danger. It shouldn’t be too comfortable. We will be looking at the final details in the coming days. Training corner variations and shoot-outs. Such things. That is now important.’
The opponent will be South Korea or Argentina. What do you expect?
Argentina can play well against teams that want to make the game. They had a very difficult time against South Africa, for example. That is why the Argentines like to play against us. That will be different against South Korea. South Korea is a lice team. They don’t have to have the ball either. Play a lot of high balls so as not to make a mistake in your own build-up. It can go either way. After all, they have absolutely nothing to lose.’
You met Argentina in December. You drew the first time there and lost the shoot-outs. You won the second game. How do you view that?
“I am very happy that we went there again. They really played to win. That has been good for us. We had to talk to each other about playing games, how games are decided on details. Everything worked out well until the summer. Not now. That has been very helpful.’
Who is the surprise of the tournament?
‘England. I think that’s a really good team, which you don’t hear much about. They have rightly become the winner in a tough group with India and Spain. The team is well put together. In the past they had to work hard. But now have more and more individual quality. With Zach Wallace as an example. All other top countries are in the top 2 of their groups. The crossovers are getting interesting. A top country can just go home.’
What is your personal highlight so far?
“The stadium in Rourkela was magical. That was the most beautiful stadium I’ve ever been to. In a beautiful ambiance, with full stands. Result-oriented, the answer must of course be 14-0. I am a man of the history books. I think it’s wonderful that we have a record with that result. A compliment to the team. As far as I’m concerned, the real highlight is yet to come.’