For the second time in 2 years, the Under17s won the European cup. Something the big boys can learn from. Success coach Albert Stuivenberg: “It’s great to see that both individually and as a team we are consistent and we can bring talent to the point where we can actually win trophies. Once, it might be a one-off, but doing it twice means something.”
Stuivenberg: “And it’s about experience, isn’t it. Experience in playing big games and gaining experience in winning. In how that feels. Any prospect that reaches the big Oranje can resort back to this experience and bring that along. That is the added value. And clubs benefit too. Quite a percentage of my lads have already played in the first teams of their clubs. This might be partly due to the financial stress some clubs have, but also because these players are almost ready for that. Seedorf, Vanenburg, Kieft, Robben, Van der Vaart, Van Persie, they all made their debuts around this age…”
In this campaign, Stuivenberg found that the quality of the smaller nations is increasing. “The difference in quality and playing level is diminishing. Countries like Slovenia and Poland play really strong football. They may lack the huge talents, but their team tactics are really good. Some nations compensate their lack of class with intense team practice and these nations almost play like club teams. So consistent and with lots of cohesion.”
Holland played Georgia in the semi finals. A strong and tough team, that defeated Spain and England in the group. “We played most of the game with one man more, but still have difficulties breaking them down. We played in a too low pace. Sometimes, when the other team gets red-carded early, complacency sinks in to the team. As if it’s easy to beat ten men. Experience learns it is not.”
Nathan Ake, the ex-Feyenoord midfielder in Chelsea service and PSV striker Rai Vloet had the best of the game and most chances but it was PSV defender Hendrix who found the net in the last quarter of the game. When Georgia tried to break for the equaliser, Oranje got more space and Feyenoord midfielder Trindade de Vilhena offered Thom Haye the deciding goal.
Oranje U17 would play the finals against Germany again, a repeat of the 2011 game, which Holland won 5-2.
The finals ended in a draw this time, but Oranje was better in taking spot kicks. The Germans did leave the initiative to Holland in the first part of the game, playing more old-fashioned counter football.
In a tense game most opportunities were shots from distance. Germany took more initiative in the second half and scored with a header from a corner in within 5 minutes: 0-1.
Germany got the better chances and Holland was a bit shaken after this German goal. It took the Dutch a while to get back into the game. Holland pressed and pushed but it took a lucky cross in from Haye to enable sub Acolatse to score in the dying minutes of the game. Goalie Nick Olij was the Dutch hero in the penalty series. He stopped the fourth German penalty and Tonny Trindade de Vilhena scored the winning goal.
After the finals, Albert Steuivenberg said the late goal was not just luck. “We know and knew we had talent but I wanted the boys to fight for their chances too. To stick together and work when things go against you. Against Georgia, we had to already and against the Germans you saw this again. Sure, it was luck but this is luck you sort of generate yourself by believing in it. And this late goal was a tremendous boost for us in the penalty series, just like Germany will have had trouble processing the late equaliser.”
Stuivenberg is seriously impressed with his squad. “As I said, some of these guys have made their debut in the Eredivisie and with Feyenoord on the way up, AZ doing really well and also Heerenveen and Vitesse doing great the future of Dutch football is rosy.”
Ajax and PSV are the main suppliers in this age group.
“It’s interesting to see that clubs in England, Spain and Italy are already scouting these lads. It’s a good confirmation for them, but not necessarily a good thing to follow up on… But Ake has a good contract for instance, at Chelsea, and he will train with the A-team and what not… It’s hard for these lads to resist that…”
Both Ajax and PSV have four players in the squad, with Heerenveen/Emmen three.
Elton Acolatse, Djavan Anderson, Branco van den Boomen and Queensy Menig (all Ajax), Thom Haye and Nick Olij (both AZ), Nathan Aké (Chelsea), Tonny Trindade de Vilhena (Feyenoord/Excelsior), Sandy Walsh (RC Genk), Pascal Huser, Wouter Marinus and Joris Voest (all sc Heerenveen/Emmen), Riechedly Bazoer, Jorrit Hendrix, Rai Vloet ,Bram van Vlerken (all PSV), Mike Havekotte (FC Utrecht) and Jeroen Lumu (Willem II/ RKC).