On Friday, the Netherlands face Spain while Sweden play Japan in the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup
The Netherlands is through to the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup, after a 2-nil win over south Africa. Yet star midfielder Danielle van de Donk was inconsolable.
Her yellow card in the second half of the match means she will serve a one-match suspension. Her tears were likely in realisation that she may have played her final match of the tournament if the Dutch lose to Spain in the quarterfinals.
But Netherlands coach Andries Jonker had no time for any negativity.
“We’ve come with the conviction that we can beat everybody. And if you say we can beat everybody, it includes all teams, South Africa, but also Spain,” he said. “So it means it’s not the last game for Danielle. We want to beat Spain, then she can come back into the tournament.”
The Dutch certainly appear to be contenders again after losing to the United States in the World Cup final four years ago.
After finishing above the Americans in Group E this time, they overcame South Africa at Sydney Football Stadium through goals from Jill Roord in the first half and Lineth Beerensteyn in the second.
But Spain is among the title favorites, and backed up its billing with a 5-1 win over Switzerland on Saturday.
US v Sweden
Reigning champions the United States are out of the tournament despite playing the best game of the tournament. The Americans’ bid to win an unprecedented third consecutive title ended Sunday night on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.
It is the earliest exit in tournament history for the United States, four-time winners of the World Cup.
The loss was somewhat expected based on the Americans’ listless play through three group stage matches. But they played their best game of this World Cup against Sweden, only to have it decided by penalties.
Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith and Kelly O’Hara all missed penalty kicks that could have given the United States the win.
“I am proud of the women on the field,” said US coach Vlatko Andonovski. “I know we were criticized for the way we played, and for different moments in the group stage. I think we came out today and showed the grit, the resilience, the fight. The bravery showed we did everything we could to win the game. And, unfortunately, soccer can be cruel sometimes.”
It was the first match at this World Cup to go to extra time.