Dutch Euro 2004 faith falls after 1-1 draw
16 June 2004
AMSTERDAM — As 7.5 million Dutch fans sat glued to TV screens on Tuesday night, faith in their national soccer team’s Euro 2004 success declined despite its thrilling 1-1 draw with arch-rival Germany in its opening match of the European Championship.
Prior to the start of the hard-fought match at the Estadio Dragao stadium in the Portuguese city of Porto, 22 percent of the Dutch population thought that the Netherlands would be eliminated after the first round of matches.
But after Tuesday night’s match, a survey on behalf of public broadcaster NOS found 26 percent of the nation now thinks the Netherlands will not make it beyond the Pool D matches against Germany, the Czech Republic and Latvia, news agency ANP reported.
Immediately after the match, the Maurice de Hond survey of 400 people also found that just 7 percent of Dutch fans think the Netherlands will be crowned Euro 2004 champion, compared with 12 percent before the kick-off.
The respondents gave a 5.5 assessment to the Dutch team after the match, slightly less than the 6.2 given to Germany. They said Pierre van Hooijdonk was the best Dutch player of the match and the opening German goal was the fault of goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
Ratings agency KijkOnderzoek (SKO) said 7.5 million watched the duel on TV, less than the best-watched Netherlands-Germany match of all time, which was played during the European Championship in 1992. Ten million people watched that clash 14 years ago.
German Torsten Frings scored the first — and relatively easy — goal of the match at the 30th minute from a free kick and the Netherlands was forced to wait until the 81st minute for Ruud Nistelrooij to score the equalizer in a terrific close-in struggle.
The match lacked tempo for much of the 90 minutes and for much of the duel the Netherlands posed little threat to the tight German defence.
But in the last five minutes of the match, the Dutch team applied urgent pressure as it searched for a winning goal. A lacklustre German team in the second half also came alive, and despite the tension, still had a chance in the dying seconds to snatch victory.
Dutch coach Dick Advocaat said after the match the end score was deserved. “It was not the best match. There was a lot of tension. Both teams showed a lot of awe for each other,” he said.
The Netherlands now has two matches to make good on its disappointing start to the competition. It will take on the Czech Republic on Saturday and Latvia on Wednesday next week. The Czech Republic leads Pool D after its 2-1 victory over Latvia also on Tuesday.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news