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Wins give Dutch reason to believe

Goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet feels "valuable lessons" have been learned in the Netherlands' back-to-back friendly wins, Leroy Fer adding that the Jong Oranje "have quality in depth".

Wins give Dutch reason to believe
Wins give Dutch reason to believe ©UEFA.com

The Netherlands rode their luck, but a 2-1 win against Israel followed by a 4-1 defeat of Norway have left them buoyant as they look ahead to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship.

Goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet enjoyed an unforgettable evening in Waalwijk on Monday, making a vital penalty save in front of his home crowd that turned the game against ten-man Norway in his side's favour. "We could have gone 2-0 down and we really woke up after that. In the end we showed our quality and won quite comfortably," he said.

"It's not a position we should have been in; already trailing and then conceding a penalty," he added. "We learned a lot this evening. They dropped back and defended deeply when they went down to ten men, and we have to be careful in those kinds of situations that we don't get overly enthusiastic and end up with too many players in front of the ball, because when they got the ball they were dangerous on the counter. That's something we have to be careful of if we want to go far in the finals.

"We also learned valuable lessons against Israel on Thursday. We should have closed out the match after we took the lead, but we didn't and they came back and made life difficult for us," continued the 22-year-old. "On a more positive note, we have won our last two friendly matches, against teams that are also taking part in the finals in June; we have every reason to be confident."

Midfielder Leroy Fer noted that the depth of quality within the Dutch squad makes them contenders for the European title. "I think most of the teams who have qualified for the finals have a chance, and we're definitely one of them," he said.

"We missed a very good player in Adam Maher this evening [he was called up to the full squad to replace the injured Wesley Sneijder]. Adam can play well in any position in the midfield, yet I have to say that this replacement Lerin Duarte did really well – he scored our first and, I think, had a hand in every single goal we scored. We really have quality in depth."

Lessons, however, must be learned from the two games. "We could have scored in the first half but squandered our chances," the FC Twente man noted. "It was strange: before they went down to ten men we created two very good chances, but after that it became very difficult for us to find a gap. There were similarities with the game against Israel, when we also had quite a number of chances, which we also didn't convert. At least in both matches we managed to step up and eventually claim victory."