CIRCUS XAVI SIMONS
Oranje U17 – Kosovo U17. Final score: 1-1
The last two squads of Oranje U17 won the European championship and Wednesday, a new campaign will start. Team coach Mischa Visser, taking over from Peter van der Veen temporarily, started the qualification with a match vs Kosovo, and they do so with 20 new names. These talents practiced twice against France and won both matches. This Kosovo also seemed to be prey for the Dutch talents, in particular when PSV midfielder Jimenez scored within 10 minutes with a shot from distance.
After that quick goal, Oranje has extreme possession, close to 90%, but they can’t create more chances. Kosovo plays terribly defensive. When Oranje fails to clear a ball, it’s a freak goal by a Kosovarian: 1-1. The home team can’t believe it. Visser immediately brings Xavi Simons on to the pitch.
Circus Xavi can start, although it already started when the midfielder exits the players bus. It’s unreal to see how popular the 16 year old is. This squad is full of talented young lads, but we don’t know any of their names. With Simons, it’s different. In the 100 meters from players bus to the dressing room, dozens of fans raced to Xavi for an autograph and when he starts his warming up, the excitement can be sensed on the stands.
Once Simons is on the pitch, Simons demands the ball continuously and is close to scoring, twice. First with a tremendous free kick and later with a shot that flies over the bar. After the game is over, no one talks about the strange stats. Possession 90-10. Attempts on goal: 21-1. Goals 1-1. The fans who are present all chase Simons as if he’s a Beatle. He patiently joins in on the selfies and joins his family once he can. After this Circus Xavi performance, one has to feel for the 16 year old who probably feels the pressure from the extreme hype to perform conform to expectations in the coming years.
WORLD CUP FAVORITE
Oranje U18 – Belgium U18. Final score: 3-2
In two weeks, the Dutch NT U18 will participate in the World Cup in Brazil. This might well be a historical tournament for us, as this group oozes talent! Peter van de Veen won the European title twice with one hand tied to their back. And against Belgium, in this friendly, at times it’s just sumptuous to watch these lads play. In particular, the combinations between Naci Ünüvar and Mohamed Taabouni (see main photo) are of exceptional quality. Taabouni scores early after a trademark outside foot pass by Ünüvar, who repeats that feat once more later on. This team has so much football in it, that at times it all goes a tad too easily.
Belgium, with Wesley Sonck as the team manager, benefit from the this complacency and score twice from a counter. Jayden Braaf comes on as a sub and rectifies it all with two identical goals. Coming inside and placing the ball with his right into the far corner. The left winger started his season at Man City strong and it says a lot about the strength of this team that he started on the bench. Braaf gets the spotlight with his two goals, but man of the match is Taabouni. The 17 year old playmaker constantly draws the game towards him and always finds the right solution. AZ has another gem in their midst.
HOPE FOR FEYENOORD (AND ADO)
Oranje U19 – Lithuania U19. Final score: 8-2
NT manager Maarten Stekelenburg’s team is a week in Lithuania for the Euro qualification tournament and plays top drawer football. First, it’s Moldavia with 5-0 and last Friday they won 8-2 vs Lithuania. It’s the role of the Feyenoord players in particular that catches the eye. Seven of the eight goals were scored by players who are signed with Feyenoord. Cry Summerville, on loan with ADO Den Haag, scored four goals, while Azarkan and Burger also scored.
It offers hope for Feyenoord, whose youth academy has had some lean times recently. Five years in a row, the Feyenoord Academy was considered the best of the country, but the last seasons, AZ and Ajax is topping the bill. Of all the youth teams’ players, 55 in total, 13 are from Ajax and 13 from AZ. Feyenoord offers 5 players and PSV a mere 2.
A talented generation is coming through for Feyenoord, and it’s exciting to watch Cry Summerville play for ADO Den Haag, who can use some goalscoring capabilities.
Oranje U20 – Portugal U20. Final Score: 1-1.
In theory, Bert Konterman could well be the most fortunate coach at Oranje U20, with the ability to play Mathijs de Ligt and Donyell Malen, but both players have moved to the big Oranje and most likely foregood. Young Oranje has players who could also play for this team. Tahith Chong and Mitchell van Bergen are two more experienced players of repute but both players were not able to play due to slight injuries.
Konterman had to change his team on three spots and the lack of flow was noticeable. The Portuguese do all they can to stop Oranje playing and to suck the oxygen out of the game. The Dutch goal is the result of a dead ball set play. Ekkelenkamp is first to react when the Portuguese goalie spills the free kick of Obispo.
This Under20 team is a sort of inbetween-team. Players who can’t play for Young Oranje anymore can still play here and make minutes. The interest in the matches of this team is much less than with other teams. The time this team plays, for instance, is at the same time as the big Oranje, vs Northern Ireland.
Young Oranje closes the international week with a strong 4-2- win over Portugal and a 0-4 win over Norway. The matches resulted in one big AZ show. Five AZ players are in the starting line up and three claimed a key role. Koopmeiners, Stengs and Boadu showed what was clearly visible in other rep teams: AZ has gold in their hands.