Dragflick Newsdesk : The top four goalscorer thus far in the competition were on the pitch for this game, so the spectators could have been forgiven for anticipating a goal-fest. However, the two teams involved have also been the meanest when it comes to conceding goals.
Prior to today’s fixture, the Dutch had gone four hours to this point without giving a goal away, while India had conceded just two goals in the four previous matches.
It was a wonderful start to the game. Mumtaz Khan nearly gave India the dream start as she received the ball from Tete Salima and saw her resulting shot strike Sophie ter Kuile’s goalpost.
Just minutes later Jip Dicke uncharacteristically missed the ball when faced with a clear scoring opportunity after Noor Omrani sent a lovely ball through to the sharp shooter.
India continued to press forwards with real intensity but then the Dutch did what they do brilliantly. The ball was picked up in defence and 18 swift passes later it was in the back of the India net. The final moves involved a one-two from Luna Fokke to Noor Omrani and onto Tessa Beetsma. Beetsma made no mistake as she shot past Devi Kharibam in the India goal.
Beetsma thought she had scored again just seconds later by some great umpiring by Rebecca Woodcock detected the use of the back of the stick and the scores remained at 1-0.
Possession then batted back and forth, with India causing more problems in 30 minutes than the team in orange had faced all tournament. However, during his half-time talk, India Head Coach Erik Wonink would have been urging his players to push harder to turn chances to goals.
The second half saw the Netherlands begin to push their foot down a little more. The difference between the team in orange and all other teams in Potchefstroom is the speed and accuracy with which they pass the ball; as the second half progressed, India were feeling the full force of the Dutch passing game.
In the third quarter, the Netherlands created several early chances to put the game out of reach. Luna Fokke, Rosa Fernig and Mette Winter all had good scoring opportunities but India somehow managed to clear their circle and keep their opponents in sight. Priyanka was particularly strong at the heart of the India defence.
And so with 15 minutes left, the game was still wide open. India’s speedy counter attack was always going to pose a threat to the Netherlands and so there was a lot of high tension around the pitch.
The match was put to bed in the final seven minutes of the game as the Netherlands scored two goals of sublime quality. First Noor Omrani showed great vision to send a cross field pass to Luna Fokke, who used her own body movement to receive the ball and put away the shot.
This body blow to India was followed seconds later when Maria Steensma sent a pass into the circle and Jip Dicke tipped it home, bringing her tournament tally to 13 – two ahead of teammate Fokke.
Player of the Match Noor Omrani said:
‘I am so super proud that we have made it to the final. We talked to each other and we said this will be the biggest test and look what we did. India played really well but everyone was contributing to the scoring and happy for each other. I don’t care who we meet in the final. The opposition doesn’t matter to us.’
Talking about the second goal scored by Fokke, Omrani said:
’I got the ball and I was looking at the goal, but Luna [Fokke] and I have some chemistry; I can’t describe it. I saw her running and I thought, yes she needs to get the ball. So I gave her the ball and when she gets the ball, she will always score. I have faith in her and she did it. That goal, taking it to 2-0 meant we could breathe a little bit and chill. It was an amazing goal.’
Netherlands Head Coach Dave Smolenaar said:
‘This means a lot. Winning against a team as strong as India was great. We defended well and scored three beautiful goals. We didn’t start well in the first half, but we loosened up after we scored the goal.’
His counterpart, India’s Head Coach Erik Wonink said: ’I am proud of the girls. We gave a really good fight. We played well in the first half but let it slip a bit in the second. As a group, we learnt so much. In the bronze medal match we will use our skill and speed to aim for that bronze medal.’