Ronald Koeman is pleased that the Dutch national team has qualified for the Euros in Germany, but it seems the head coach won't be celebrating. The Orange coach realizes that the performance in Saturday's qualifying match against Ireland needs to be significantly better for the upcoming tournament next year.
'The goal has been achieved, and you can be happy about that. But as a coach, you also look ahead,' Koeman told NOS. 'Then I see moments where we don't finish the game. It remained 1-0 until the end. On the other hand, we defended well. We have received criticism in recent times for the number of goals conceded. At least we did better in that regard this time.'
Stefan de Vrij, Virgil van Dijk, and Daley Blind played together in defense and left a good impression on the head coach. 'Very good indeed. On the ball, but especially defensively. It just worked. They are experienced players who can read situations. In that respect, they played a perfect game.'
Koeman noticed that the Netherlands never really gained control over the Irish team. 'We didn't really put the pressure on. Especially in the transition, there were significant opportunities, and that's how the goal happened. You know that, especially when they play with so much pressure forward. Once you've passed the first line, it's open. That was also the case later, after halftime. But as long as the second goal doesn't come, one ball can fall wrong, and it could still be equal.'
So, Koeman concluded that there is still room for improvement with his team before the Euros next summer. 'We know that there are areas where we need to improve to compete with other top teams. But we have also dealt with many changes and injuries. This was one of the toughest groups, with two losses against France. Home and away against Ireland and Greece, we achieved the maximum and performed well under pressure. But it's clear that we can and must play better football. I've said it before: when we have all the players available, we have a very strong Dutch team.'