The Netherlands are making their FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup debut at Tahiti 2013. After several years of growth the Oranje have reached the world stage alongside three far more established nations on sand from the Old Continent; Russia, Ukraine and Spain.
The Dutch were forced to work overtime to secure their Polynesian adventure. Despite a lack of historic pedigree in Beach Soccer, the Netherlands survived a tough group featuring Russia, Belarus and France to seal their passage. The Oranje firstly defeated 2005 world champions France on penalties and then suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat against reigning world champions Russia. The Netherlands then claim a hugely tense last-gasp win over Belarus to secure passage to Tahiti 2013.
A greater focus on Beach Soccer has paid dividends for the Netherlands with maiden qualification to the world stage. There are now some 10,000 participants in the game in Holland with a natural flow-on to the national team. Coach Niels Kokmeijer, who has led his team through a fairly rigorous preparation since qualifying in July 2011, says that “great strides have been made in recent years”. The current crop proved their versatility during qualifying with a traditional Dutch technical approach, and tactics measured to suit their respective opponents. Their strength as a team unit was also in evidence with Kokmeijer stating “every man is willing to do his all for his team-mates”.