Tokyo Olympics: Netherlands' Sherida Spitse withdraws from Games with injury

Spitse, who suffered a knee injury during training, will be replaced by Joëlle Smits of VfL Wolfsburg

File Photo: Netherlands in action against United States in the Women's World Cup Final 2019. The Dutch camp, being one of the medal contenders, will see Spitse's sudden exit as an unplanned setback   -  REUTERS

Netherlands international Sherida Spitse has had to withdraw from the Olympic Games after suffering a knee injury during training on Monday.

This comes as a major setback to Dutch hopes of gold in the women's football tournament.

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The 31-year-old midfielder, who has a record 188 caps for the national team, is an integral part of the Dutch side, which is currently European Champion and was Women’s World Cup runners-up in 2019.

In the 2020 Tokyo Games as well, it was among the medal favourites.

"And suddenly my big dream is shattered. There are few words that can describe how unbelievably painful this hurts," Spitse told Dutch media on Tuesday after a tackle in training resulted in torn ligaments.

"I always give 100%, also in duels in training. This was just bad luck. It really sucks, for me and for the team."

Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, whose team goes up against Zambia in Miyagi on Wednesday in their opening Group F encounter, had sympathy for Spitse at Tuesday’s pre-match news conference.

"Her whole life is focused on football and this tournament. That is painful for her, but also for the team."

"She is a very important player for us, both on and off the field," said Wiegman.

After the rest of the squad was told Spitse had to go home, tears flowed.

"This has a huge impact on the team. But at the same time everyone realises that we have a goal here. We can deal with this, we have dealt with setbacks before," Wiegman added.

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Joëlle Smits of VfL Wolfsburg will replace Spitse. She was on the standby list and already training with the squad.

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