EURO 2024 Qualifier: Netherlands –v- Republic of Ireland
- Macdara Ferris
- Fri, Nov 17 2023
Macdara Ferris reports from Johan Cruyff Arena
The Netherlands know a win on Saturday evening (kick off 7.45pm Irish time) will book them a place at EURO 2024 next door in Germany.
Ronald Koeman’s side won 2-1 in Dublin when they met Ireland earlier in the campaign and have runners up spot behind France firmly within their grasp.
Their only losses in Group B have come against the World Cup runners up – 2-1 at home last month and the 4-0 hammering in Paris back in March.
Koeman does have somewhat of an injury crisis as he explained at his pre-match press conference.
"We are now missing seven or eight defenders,” said Koeman as reported by ad.nl. “But if you see what we still have left in defence, we are richly endowed with good defenders.
“It would be nice if we also had that luxury up front, but the Netherlands have also had periods when it was the other way around and we had a lot of choice there.”
The Dutch win over Greece last time out puts the Oranje in the strongest of qualifying positions.
They are level with the Greeks on a dozen points but have a game in hand and a better head-to-head record.
Should Ireland manage to win, the Dutch only need to beat Gibraltar – the fifth worst side in men’s world football - away in their final match to secure qualification for next summer’s tournament.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Slovakia’s 4-2 home win over Iceland on Thursday night snuffed out what was remaining of the slimmest of hopes for Ireland in making EURO 2024. That result sets up an effective dead rubber game this weekend in Amsterdam.
The Boys in Green have nothing but pride to play for while the Dutch know even if they somehow slip up on Saturday evening they have a game against Gibraltar to find the final three points they need to secure runners up spot and automatic qualification for the Euros.
The clock is certainly counting down on the Stephen Kenny managerial era now that Ireland cannot qualify. He has just 180 minutes remaining – Saturday’s game in the Netherlands and the New Zealand Aviva friendly on Tuesday.
At his pre-match press conference in the Johan Cruijff Arena, Kenny spoke about what faces his team on Saturday night.
“It's a big challenge,” said Kenny. “Holland showed their quality when they beat Greece 3-0 here (a team who beat Ireland home and away).
“They were 3-0 up at half-time and beat them very convincingly, but that's what they're capable of and we're well aware of that.”
Ireland raced out of the blocks against the Dutch in Dublin in a match that was evenly balanced – 50/50 possession and both teams had seven shots each – but it was Koeman’s side who came away with the 2-1 victory that night.
“It was a very narrow game in Dublin; a very, very tight game overall and we didn't concede many chances in the game, believe it or not, not too many.
“In possession, we were absolutely excellent as well for large parts of the game, so we've got to play really well, exceptionally well to get a result, but we're happy with the team that we have.”
Kenny’s Ireland side are seeking just their third win of the campaign – their only victories coming against bottom side Gibraltar – and it will be a tough task in front of what is expected to be a full house in Amsterdam.
The Boys in Green will finish fourth no matter what happens in the Dutch capital this weekend in what is Ireland’s final qualifier.
Ireland will be cheered on by 2,600 travelling supporters in the stadium which will have the roof closed for the game.
Having lost Will Smallbone and Festy Ebosele earlier in the week, Kenny confirmed on Friday night that Chiedozie Ogbene is unavailable.
“He has two injuries. An ankle injury has ruled him out, he hasn’t been able to train this week. He hasn’t been able to put his foot in a boot properly.
"He had a tight hamstring that forced him to come off late against Liverpool. He played against Manchester United last week but he didn’t feel that he could sprint fully and has been anxious about that as well.
Possible Ireland XI (4-2-3-1): Gavin Bazunu; Matt Doherty, Shane Duffy, Nathan Collins, Liam Scales; Josh Cullen, Alan Browne; Jamie McGrath, Jason Knight, Mikey Johnson; Evan Ferguson.
Referee: Marco Di Bello (Italy)
There haven’t been too many recent games between the sides. Since the start of this millennium, the teams have played each other on just six occasions – with two victories for both sides.
Ireland’s last win over the Dutch was that famous 1-0 victory in 2001 in Lansdowne Road on the way to qualification for the 2002 World Cup.
Ireland’s last win in the Netherlands was a 2004 friendly that the Boys in Green won 1-0 thanks to a Robbie Keane goal. In competitive matches between the sides, Ireland have yet to claim a victory away from home.
Denzel Dumfries has been involved in eight goals in his last nine appearances for the Netherlands (one goal, seven assists) and has five assists in Euro 2024 qualifying, with only Bruno Fernandes registering more (seven).
Evan Ferguson has three goals in eight appearances for the Republic of Ireland. The 19-year-old is one of only four players to have scored three goals as a teenager for the Boys in Green, along with Robbie Keane (six), David Connolly (five) and Kevin O’Flanagan (three).
Netherlands 2 – 1 Republic of Ireland
Injured: Nathan Aké, Sven Botman, Mattjijs de Ligt, Jurrien Timber, Micky van de Ven, Jeremie Frimpong, Lutsharel Geertruida
Republic of Ireland
Injured: Will Smallbone, Festy Ebosele, Chiedozie Ogbene