World Cup: Reigning Champions Netherlands Start Strong Title Defence Vs Ireland

The Netherlands kicks off the World Cup with a carefree victory over Ireland

The Orange Women have started their World Cup convincingly. In a sold-out Wagener Stadium, 9500 spectators witnessed a 5-1 victory over Ireland. A win that signalled that the hunt for title renewal is on and marks a new era.  

For months, it was red-bordered in the diaries. July 2nd. The day on which the first major tournament for the Orange after the won Olympic Games in Tokyo started. The moment when it was finally about hockey again. Not about the many peripheral cases that came out last fall. About the performance culture, where everything turned out to be wrong. About the inevitable departure of Alyson Annan as national coach. About the how-now question. The puzzle pieces had to come together again. Time? There was almost none.

Jamilon Mülders was given less than half a year to unite the group again. He was an assistant under Annan and moved on as a short-term solution, which turned out not to be so short after all. Because interimmer Mülders liked and stayed. Under his leadership, the Orange squad ploughed through the Pro League, where the Orange finished second. It was the first time since the 2016 Rio Games that the Netherlands did not win a tournament. It didn’t hurt, it was fine.

After the win against Ireland, the Orange Ladies thank the Wagener Stadium, which was sold out with 9500 spectators. Photo: Willem Vernes

Tears at The Good

More importantly, much more important is this World Cup. The ideal stage to show that, despite the turbulent months, the Netherlands is still the benchmark   in women’s hockey. It was all about this opening game on the blue mat in the Wagener. That was already apparent during the national anthem, where Eva de Goede did not keep it dry. The midfielder scoffed at all medical laws by recovering from a serious cruciate ligament injury within nine months .  

Emotional Eva de Goede during the Wilhelmus. Photo: Willem Vernes

She will also have seen that the Netherlands started energetically and often ended up in the circle with Ireland. Orange only reaped the benefits of this convincing and fresh start after seventeen minutes. Maria Verschoor was on her way to the opening goal, but was knocked down by Irish goalie Ayeisha McFerran. penalty ball. Frédérique Matla didn’t have to push hard to beat the keeper of Ireland and Kampong: 1-0.  

Waiting for more goals

The Netherlands had plenty of opportunities to expand the score before half-time, but the penalty corner in particular was rather stiff. In the first thirty minutes, seven attempts by the header yielded nothing, also because McFerran was a good goalkeeper. Her colleague – and life partner – Anne Veenendaal had very little to do on the other side of the field. Except for a shot from Sarah Torrens, from an extremely difficult angle, the losing 2016 World Cup finalist caused little attention.

The two debutants who scored together in the picture. Left Sabine Plönissen and Yibbi Jansen. Photo: Willem Vernes

So it was mainly waiting for more goals from the Netherlands. And they came. The first corner after the break went well, via Yibbi Jansen, who crowned a good match with a striking drag. Shortly afterwards, Ireland also used its first corner, via Roisin Upton: 2-1. Great joy among the Irish and rightly so, because it was the first time that Ireland scored against the Netherlands in a major tournament.  

Penalty number two

In the same quarter, the Netherlands took some more distance. Sabine Plönissen, just like Jansen debuting at a World Cup, flattest corner number nine hit hard for the 3-1. Shortly afterwards, the ball landed on the dot again. This time McFerran – who did not get a card by the way – knocked Felice Albers down. Again it was Matla, who cold-bloodedly pushed: 4-1.  

Ireland was tired and also cashed in the 5-1 in the final quarter. A nice backhand from Maria Verschoor gave the Orange victory even more brilliance. A victory that marks that the Netherlands is on the right track. The hunt for title renewal has begun.  

Netherlands – Ireland 5-1 (1-0)
17. 1-0 Power (sb)
35. 2-0 Jansen (sc)
37. 2-1 Upton (sc)
41. 3-1 Plönissen (sc)
44. 4-1 Power (sb)
46. ​​5-1 Verschoor  

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