VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Netherlands held on to defeat New Zealand 1-0 in the second Group A match on Saturday afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. A first half wonder strike from Lieke Martens lifted the Oranje to their first every Women’s World Cup victory. Despite the win, midfielder Danielle Van De Donk thinks her team could have performed at a higher level.
“The first half I think we did okay, we had a nice game,” she said. “In the second half we weren’t that good anymore. New Zealand had a lot of pressure on us and we were a little bit messy in the game. It could be better.”
The Netherlands got off to a great start and were unable to continue that trend. New Zealand had plenty of opportunities to find an equalizer and failed to do so. Van De Donk was quite happy and also relieved to see Martens step up and deliver.
“It was a fantastic goal. Yeah we needed it, nobody else scored a goal. We’re glad she did it.”
The match proved to be very physical with each team battling for control and possession. Goalkeeper Loes Geurts was on the wrong end of a nasty collision with Hannah Wilkinson. Rebekah Stott sent a cross into the Netherlands box, Geuerts and Wilkinson both went for the ball. The right shoulder of Wilkinson made contact with the head of Geurts. The 29-year-old stayed down on the pitch for several minutes. Surprisingly, Geurts was able to stay in the match and help the Netherlands to a win.
The importance of an opening match victory for Roger Reijners and the Dutch grows even more significant after reports surfaced that Loes Geurts is doubtful for the next match with an ankle injury. Guerts was rested during the Netherlands training session on Sunday. The next match for the Oranje will be against China on Thursday, June 11 in Edmonton, Alberta.
— OranjeLeeuwinnen (@oranjevrouwen) June 7, 2015
Translation: Loes Geurts has an ankle ligament injury sustained against #NZL and is doubtful for the match against China. #OranjeLeeuwinnen #wwc2015
Japan, the defending World Cup Champions will take on debutante Switzerland in the second match of Group C action on Monday night at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver. The No. 4-ranked Japanese have been in Vancouver for a week training and getting acclimated to their new surroundings.
Captain Aya Miyama is confident that Japan will make good use of what they have learned as the prepare to defend the World Cup.
“We have a pretty high level of adaptability,” Miyama said.
Coach Norio Sasaki is hoping his team can score more often during the run of play. Great teams can always attack on the counter and pounce on an opposition turnover. During training, Japan have been executing brilliantly on set pieces. Sasaki would like to see his team find other ways to score as well. He knows that the first match of a tournament can always be a surprise.
“The first game is a strange animal, anything can happen,” he said.
The 57-year-old wasn’t willing to tip his hand at which one of his three goalkeepers might start against Switzerland. The throng of Japanese media covering Japan seem to think Ayumi Kaihori will start against the No. 19 ranked Swiss. Sasaki for his part talked about all his keepers and avoided naming his starter.
“I have three goalkeepers that are unique individually. For tomorrow I like to keep it a secret,” he said.
Notes: Switzerland defender Rahel Kiwic will not be in the starting 11 vs Japan. The 24-year-old is recovering from a leg injury and will be brought back slowly by coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg.
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