Netherlands coach Andries Jonker is promising must-watch football when his team faces four-time champion the United States on Thursday in the Women’s World Cup group stage.
In a highly anticipated rematch of their 2019 final, the two sides will clash in Wellington with plenty on the line.
The United States is gunning for an unprecedented third straight title, while the Dutch will want to revive the spirit of their 2017 European Championship win.
“This will be an example of modern women’s football. It will be a fight from the first minute until the last with teams who want to compete, teams who want to win, teams who respect each other, and who both have no fear,” Jonker told reporters.
“Both want to win the group, so this is going to be a really good match.”
The Netherlands opened its campaign with a 1-0 win over debutant Portugal on Sunday, when Lineth Beerensteyn suffered an ankle injury. It will likely have to manage without the striker on Thursday.
The loss is added pain for a squad already missing all-time top scorer Vivianne Miedema, who was unable to recover in time for the tournament from an ACL injury sustained in December.
They face a United States that is trying to retool its finishing power after missing a series of chances in its opening 3-0 win over Vietnam.
“We all know America has been one of the best teams in the world for a long, long time. I think they still have so much quality on the pitch, but I think we’re growing too,” said Dutch midfielder Jackie Groenen.
“We have two teams with different kinds of qualities who are going to match up really well.”
Groenen said she and her teammates were trying to stay focused on the present against the United States, which knocked them out in the Olympic quarterfinal two years ago.
“We have a lot of respect for America,” she said. “We’re also not trying to dwell on what’s been.”
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