If the Netherlands raised a few eyebrows on Thursday when they drew 0-0 with Germany in their UEFA Women's EURO 2013 opener, then Anouk Hoogendijk has delivered an ominous message for the rest of the field in Sweden, saying: "We can do better."
Hoogendijk was part of the Dutch back four which successfully neutered a Germany team that registered 64 goals in ten qualifying matches and entered the tournament on a run of 19 successive wins in the finals of this competition.
Unsurprisingly, plaudits were widespread after that Group B fixture in Vaxjo, but a goalless draw with the dominant nation in the women's game should not represent a ceiling on the Orange Lionesses' progress, according to the affable 28-year-old. The AFC Ajax player knows her side can "improve", starting against Norway on Sunday.
"We can take a lot [of confidence into the game], because we knew we had improved a lot compared to four years ago, but on Thursday we showed just how much we have done so – everyone saw that," said Hoogendijk, ever-present in the Dutch's ground-breaking run to the semi-finals in 2009. "We can do better. It was good, but we can improve and hopefully we will show that tomorrow."
That could be bad news for Norway, who, via a youthful front three of goalscorer Kristine Hegland, Ada Hegerberg and Caroline Hansen, showed flashes of their attacking threat in the 1-1 draw with Iceland. "They are a totally different team compared to Germany, they play more long balls than through midfield, and physically they are really strong," explained Hoogendijk.
"I know enough about them. The coach [Roger Reijners] has shown me all of their skills and we know who the key players are, though my preparation will be the same as the previous game. I always look at my opponents' strong and weak points and what I can do to win the battles."
Almost 800,000 people back home watched the Netherlands' matchday one encounter on TV, while Hoogendijk has been innundated with messages of support on her Facebook page. Having played in front of near 9,000-strong crowd in Vaxjo, she is hoping for another impressive turnout in Kalmar, where the Dutch relocated to on Friday.
"I expect a lot of Dutch fans [to attend] because it's a weekend and it's easy for them to come across," she said. "We are really enjoying the city, the hotel and so far everything is perfect." A win against their fellow semi-finalists of four years ago would make things even better for Hoogendijk and Co.
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