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FIFA Women's World Cup

The Netherlands

Netherlands' team players pose
© AFP

FIFA Women’s World Cup record

The Netherlands had to negotiate the play-offs in qualifying for their first FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada in 2015. And despite only just making the tournament and their lack of experience on the global scene, the Dutch made a good impression on their debut. After defeating New Zealand 1-0 in their opening match, they lost by the same scoreline to China PR and then drew against the host nation to reach the second round. The Netherlands’ inexperience told in the Round of 16, however, when defending world champions Japan, the eventual runners-up, brought their maiden Women’s World Cup adventure to an end.

The road to France

The Canada 2015 qualifiers saw the Netherlands finish second in their group behind Norway and then come through the play-offs against the three other best group runners-up to claim the final European place at the world finals. That selfsame scenario played out again this time, as the Dutch once more finished behind the Norwegians. The Oranje Leuuwinen beat the Scandinavians at home – Norway’s only defeat of the campaign – but lost the return fixture and drew against Republic of Ireland, a result that ultimately cost them top spot in the group. For the second European qualifying competition in a row, the Netherlands eased through the play-off semi-finals, beating Denmark 4-1 on aggregate. They repeated the feat against Switzerland in the final, following up a 3-0 win in the first leg with a 1-1 draw in the second.

The coach

A former international who won 104 caps, several of them as captain, Sarina Wiegman is a legend of Dutch women’s football. She spent part of her career in the USA, playing alongside the likes of Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly, and took inspiration from the professional set-up she encountered there to develop the women’s game back in the Netherlands. An assistant national team coach between 2014 and 2017, and a caretaker coach on two occasions, she was handed the job on a permanent basis in January 2017, six months before her country hosted the UEFA Women’s EURO. Working wonders in that short space of time, Wiegman instilled the Dutch with fresh confidence as they won five games out of six to be crowned European champions for the first time in their history. That achievement was instrumental in earning her The Best FIFA Women’s Coach award for 2017.

The stat

5 - The number of goals scored in qualifying by Vivanne Miedema and Sherida Spitze, the two leading scorers in a team that struck a total of 22 goals in the preliminaries, an indication of the danger they pose as a unit.