Danny Koevermans smiled that "it could be worse" after his goal in a 1-0 win against Luxembourg saw the Netherlands stumble to the UEFA EURO 2008™ finals.
A sell-out crowd at the De Kuip Stadium in Rotterdam saw Koevermans mark his first appearance in the Dutch starting lineup with a winning goal after 43 minutes. "It could be worse," said the 29-year-old, who won his third cap. "Making your debut in the Oranje first XI at the age of 29 is already great but I never imagined I would score the goal to take us to the finals."
The Netherlands will be appearing in their sixth successive UEFA European Championship, having missed only one since 1976. However, while the decisive game was hardly impressive, Koevermans said: "The most important thing is that we qualified. It is a pity we did not score more goals. We had plenty of chances, especially in first half, but I do not want to sound too negative."
The Netherlands completely dominated the match, passing up a host of opportunities, and were almost made to pay as Luxembourg stepped up a gear in the final minutes, with Sébastien Remy forcing Edwin van der Sar to make a vital save at the death. "Luckily Edwin van der Sar was in the right place, otherwise this evening might have ended in disappointment," said Koevermans.
Van der Sar angry
The 122-times capped Van der Sar was angry that his side came so close to letting the lead slip. "That should not have happened," said the Manchester United FC goalkeeper. "It shows the inexperience and attacking mindset of this group. We were smashed around the ears with two counterattacks that could have cost us a place in the European championship."
Work in progress
Involved in his 100th Netherlands match - 58 as a striker and now 42 as a coach - Marco van Basten defended his young side, saying: "We have a lot of attacking qualities but they are all still young lads. In the final phase of a match we lack the physical strength. That is something we have to work on, because against the bigger opponents you can get into huge trouble with that."
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