The superb Netherlands team turned in a flawless performance to beat India 3-0 in the semi-final of the Junior World Cup at Potchefstroom, South Africa.
India started the game well – going on the attack, employing the high press and forcing the Dutch on the defensive. Something no other team had done in the tournament so far.
Two quick attacks in the opening two minutes saw Sangita flash just over the crossbar, and Mumtaz Khan hitting the post. And for a bit, the Dutch team, which has scored 43 goals in the tournament without conceding a single one, seemed shell-shocked.
India, in the first quarter, were very direct and looking to get into the circle at all times. It earned them PCs and good chances as well but they were unable to convert.
The Dutch took a while to find their feet but once they did, their class was clear. The ball movement was sharp and the basics were perfect.
It all came together soon for the Oranje with a brilliant moment of teamwork in the 11th minute. Eighteen passes from the Dutch goal to the Indian circle before Tessa Beetsma, right in front of the goal, finished it off to give the Netherlands the lead. Everyone was involved, the ball moved at pace, inside and outside, changed sides and this is the kind of goal that coaches love.
Just over a minute later, it looked like Beetsma had struck again but the umpire spotted a back stick. The Dutch remained just a goal ahead.
The second quarter was not as frenetic as the first. But India continued to push the Dutch hard. However, the attacks weren’t as direct and the circle penetrations were fewer. Indian chances were still being created and Beauty Dung Dung had an opportunity but she played a snapshot just wide.
The counter had come after a Dutch PC and it was a tough chance but it was a clear cut opportunity, the kind that India would have loved to take.
The Dutch started the third quarter better, they kept the ball a lot more and as a result, some of the urgency that we saw from India in the first quarter went missing.
The Dutch were creating space almost effortlessly courtesy of their superb ball movement but they were unable to get the finishing touch. Rosa Fernig, Luna Fokke and Mette Winter all had chances.
That almost meant that India’s spirits remained high despite being a goal behind.
India needed somebody to create a chance and take it but try as they might, it didn’t happen as the third quarter came to an end. They had no circle entries in the third quarter. It almost seemed like Tete and Co were saving up their energy for a final push in the last 15 minutes.
The fourth quarter started in much the same manner... the Dutch controlling play, India trying to hit them on the counter.
But with India not getting much of the ball, they started to employ the high press again and that meant that there were gaps in the field; gaps that could be exploited by precise long passes.
And that is precisely what Noor Omrani did. She cut across the field and then Luna Fokke controlled it magnificently and provided the calm finish.
Even before India could settle down, they were hit by another goal. Lovely movement, fast movement and then the finish by Jip Dicke right in front of goal.
The Dutch got better and better as the game went on and it almost seemed like India, despite fighting so hard, couldn’t do anything.
The Dutch have now scored 46 goals in the tournament and conceded zero and if you wanted to understand how they have done that, then they delivered a masterclass against India.
The tournament is not over for India though. They still are in contention for the bronze medal, and will play England in the third-place playoff on Sunday. Germany progress to the final after beating the English 8-0 in their semi-final.
“I’m very proud. It was a very good start. Altogether a great learning experience and I think we did good. Now it’s head up and focus on the next game. We have to give the same fight and same spirit,” said India coach Erik Wonink after the match.
The bronze-medal playoff will be at 1700 hrs IST on Tuesday, April 12.