The Netherlands are on the verge of their second straight UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-finals and Luc Castaignos has been at the spearhead of their campaign in Germany.
Close to record
Having been frustrated in the opening 1-1 draw with England, Castaignos put the Netherlands ahead against Turkey on the stroke of half-time on Saturday. He also hit the woodwork in a 2-1 victory that leaves the Jong Oranje three points clear in second place in Group B. That goal was Castaignos's ninth in eleven U17 appearances and has moved him to within one of the Dutch record at that level, held jointly by Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Collins John and Geoffrey Castillion, the latter part of last season's semi-finalist squad.
However, coach Albert Stuivenberg believes that Castaignos has only shown part of his potential in Germany so far. "Luc can do much better than he has done in these two games," Stuivenberg said. "He is a very fast player and he is very strong when the ball is played deep. And he can also score goals."
Castaignos himself is relieved to have opened his account. "It is a great feeling, of course, to get the three points but like our coach said there is disappointment about the game itself; we can do a lot better," Castaignos told uefa.com. "As a striker my first aim is to score, so I was disappointed not to score in the first match. But then it was a great feeling to score in the second game."
In both outings the Netherlands have, in patches, played the sort of smooth attacking football with which their nation is associated and Castaignos stated: "We have got a lot of players that can get the ball behind the last defender. I am a very strong and fast player, so I am able to take advantage of that, get through to the goalkeeper and score."
Their attacking fluency is aided by a strong contingent of seven Feyenoord players in the squad, notably Castaignos and fellow attackers Shabir Isoufi and Nigel Velder. "It doesn't matter what club we are at, [but], of course, in the end it is an advantage because we know each other well," Castaignos said. "We all know what we are going to do when we go deep for the ball, so it is an advantage."
A point against Germany in Jena on Tuesday would ensure the Netherlands progress, though it will not be straightforward with another crowd similar to the 8,500 that watched the hosts beat England 4-0 yesterday expected again at the Ernst-Abbe Sportfeld. "I am really excited about the match. It is great to play in front of that many people, but also I am tense because it is an important game," said Castaignos.
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