The Netherlands national team failed to impress during this international break, but the youth teams did and that is a reason to be excited about the future of Oranje.

  • By Michael Bell
  • Follow Michael on Twitter

It was a frustrating week to be a Netherlands fan with the shameful defeat against France, followed up by a far-from-impressive 3-0 win over Gibraltar. It is early days in his second reign, but head coach Ronald Koeman is already coming under fire for his team selection and coaching abilities.

There is also a lot of criticism being aimed at the nation’s experienced players, like Wout Weghorst, Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Jasper Cillessen after their performances, and a lot of fans would like to see fresh faces come into the squad.

Luckily for fans of Oranje, the youth teams of the Netherlands had a very successful week and there are plenty of exciting talents making waves.

The U17 squad qualified for the European Championships this summer by topping their group, ahead of England, Denmark, and Northern Ireland. Captained by Ajax defender, Jorrel Hato, a talented bunch which also includes Shaqueel van Persie, booked their place in Hungary with a 1-0 win over England sealing the top spot.

The U19s weren’t in action after they failed to reach the elite round of qualifying for the European Championships, but a friendly match against France was arranged for a U20 squad. Two goals from Sturm Graz striker Emanuel Emegha sealed an impressive 2-1 victory with Ajax players Kian Fitz-Jim and Youri Regeer, along with AZ’s Fedde de Jong among the standout performers.

The U21s are preparing for the Euros this summer and Erwin van de Looi’s side easily defeated Norway 3-0 in a friendly. Leeds United winger Crysensio Summerville was the eye-catching talent in that game, while Elayis Tavsan and Ludovit Reis also netted. A few days later, a much-changed side drew 1-1 with the Czech Republic. Million Manhoef of Vitesse was the goalscorer.

The most exciting generation, though, is the current U18 squad, which took part in the Confederations Cup. The Netherlands squad returned with the trophy after three wins out of three. Saudi Arabia was demolished 5-1, UAE 2-1, and Mexico 4-1. Ezechiel Banzuzi of NAC Breda scored six times, while Julian Rijkhoff (Borussia Dortmund), Antoni Milambo (Feyenoord), Jaden Slory (Feyenoord), David Kalokoh (Ajax) and Mike Kleijn (Feyenoord) were some of the stars. At the back, Thijmen Blokzijl (Groningen) and Dean Huijsen (Juventus) continued their fine partnership which was also present last year as the Netherlands came runners up at the European Championships.

The U18’s success was even more impressive when you realise the list of players that didn’t take part that were in the provisional squad, such as Ajax’s Silvano Vos and Gabriel Misehouy, along with PSV Eindhoven duo Isaac Babadi and Jason van Duiven, who is scoring goals for fun in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie.

While you may be disappointed that the Netherlands struggled during this international break, be assured that there is plenty of young talent coming through and we have a U17 and U21 European Championship to look forward to later in the year. The uber-talented U18 squad will also be looking to get through the first qualifying round for the 2024 U19 Euros too.

A lot of the players in these youth sides are already playing in the first team at club level or for Jong PSV, Ajax, AZ and Utrecht in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie, so you can keep an eye on their progress through the end of the season.

So remember, the future of Oranje is bright, even if the present leaves a lot to be desired.

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