Netherlands turn to their Spanish spies for World Cup clash

By AFP   August 9, 2023 | 11:04 pm PT
Netherlands turn to their Spanish spies for World Cup clash
Netherlands' coach Andries Jonker said they are well briefed about playing Spain in their 2023 Women's World Cup quarter-final. Photo by AFP/Franck Fife
Netherlands coach Andries Jonker says he "knows everything" about Spain ahead of their Women's World Cup quarter-final on Friday, thanks in part to former Spanish international Damaris Egurrola.

Egurrola made one appearance for Spain in a friendly and was a regular in their youth teams, but the midfielder now plays for the Netherlands and is contention to start in Wellington.

Jonker and his coaching staff have also been briefed about what to expect from defender Merel van Dongen, who plays for Atletico Madrid, while Stefanie van der Gragt and Lieke Martens both had spells with Barcelona.

"We know everything about Spain. We have a small book about them," Jonker said on Thursday.

"We spoke with our players, and of course Damaris, who knows a lot about Spain. Our scouting team did its job.

"I think they (Spain) won't surprise us."

The Netherlands reached the quarter-finals by beating South Africa 2-0 in the last 16, while Spain booked their place with a 5-1 thumping of Switzerland.

The Netherlands reached the final four years ago, losing 2-0 to the United States, but a fluid Spain team full of individual quality are slight favourites in Wellington.

"We have all the respect for Spain, for what they have achieved in the past, for the way they play, the way they intend to play," said Jonker, whose side is efficient rather than effervescent.

"But we are not afraid at all. We'll play our own game and it's up to Spain to solve that."

Jonker said his team are coping with a tough travel itinerary having recently flown back and forth between co-hosts New Zealand and Australia.

If they reach the semi-finals they will be off to Auckland, against Japan or Sweden, with the final on August 20 in Sydney.

"It's so many airports, so many pitches, so many flights," he said.

"I think we are world champions at flying already," he joked.

Spain coach Jorge Vilda singled out Netherlands attacker Martens, who played in the 2019 final and is at her third World Cup, as a key threat.

"She has played very well at this World Cup. We haven't seen her play at this level for a long time," Vilda said. "She's a very potent player."

Spain have never got this far at a Women's World Cup. Defender Ivana Andres admitted feeling nervous, "but they are good nerves".

"These are the games we really love to play, life or death games," she said.

"We are going to leave everything out there.

"We want to make history and we're going for it."

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