Defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic coupled with Turkey’s victory over Iceland on Tuesday night concluded an embarrassing qualifying campaign for Netherlands.  

  • By Andy Booth
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Danny Blind

Going into the game, the Dutch required a minor miracle to reach the play-offs. They needed to beat the Czech Republic in Amsterdam and hope that already qualified Iceland could win away in Turkey.

However neither result went their way. A diabolical first half saw the Czech’s score twice leaving the Oranje with a mountain to climb after the break. The inexperienced back line, which boasted just 17 caps before kick off, was left horribly exposed and seemed ill equipped to deal with what was thrown at it.

The first goal of the night came from right back Kaderabek who exploited the vast space left vacant by the disorganised defence and struck the ball confidently into the back of the net.

Ten minutes later the second deservedly followed after a prolonged period of pressure by the away side. Tomas Necid brought down a throw-in and, unchallenged, squared the ball to Sural. The winger wriggled his way past a tame challenge by Virgil van Dijk and slotted the ball under Zoet in the Dutch goal far too easily.

Just before the interval Danny Blind’s side were offered a glimmer of hope as Memphis Depay latched on to a long ball, only to be brought down by Marek Suchy. As the last man the Slovenian referee Damir Skomina was left little choice but to show the defender his marching orders.

A brief spell of Dutch pressure was short lived and all realistic hopes of a full come back were ended when substitute van Persie inexplicably caressed a header into his own in the 66th minute to extend the visitors lead. At 0-3 the task really was too great for Holland, especially as the creative prospects on which they relied were so blunt.

Memphis Depay had an exceptionally poor game, whilst El Ghazi was quiet on the right. Just before the third Czech goal Memphis squandered a good chance to reduce the deficit. Van Persie picked out the youngster with a through ball but Memphis’s strike was hit off balance and the ball went high and wide of the goal. Further promising opportunities were wasted throughout the half by the winger, who is struggling for form for both club and country of late.

Consolation goals from Huntelaar and van Persie late on made for a tense atmosphere, even if a full comeback never truthfully seemed likely. Petr Cech was rarely tested in the Czech goal, whilst the over-enthusiastic target-men Huntelaar and Bas Dost repeatedly gave away silly free-kicks, which slowed the games tempo.

As news began to echo around the ArenA that Turkey had scored a 89th minute winner, the seats began to empty. With a two goal swing required in both games, the final embers of hope fizzled out and it began to sink in. The Netherlands will not be playing at the European Championships next summer.

The damage was done before these fixtures though. Netherlands finished the group in 4th, 5 points behind 3rd place Turkey and 9 off the 1st place Czech’s. 5 defeats from 10 games is an embarrassing return, and not one worthy of seeing any side qualify for a major tournament. The fall from grace of a third place finish at last years World Cup, to this has been drastic and painful. Whether Blind stays on remains to be seen but either way, huge changes are needed to ensure this disaster is not repeated.

Andy Booth (27 Posts)