The Netherlands have long been renowned for producing talented young footballers, and the national team’s impressive showing at its first FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru in 2005 only strengthened that reputation. The Oranje qualified for the tournament as runners-up at the 2005 UEFA European U-17 Championship, and went on to finish third after losing to eventual champions Mexico in the semi-finals. After failing to qualify for the 2007 edition in the Korea Republic, they then returned to the world stage in Nigeria in 2009. It was not to be for Albert Stuivenberg’s men, though, as they failed to reach the Round of 16 after finishing third in their group behind Colombia and Iran.
It was a case of third time lucky for the Oranje starlets, as their third appearance in a UEFA U-17 European Championship final proved to be a winning one. After brushing aside Lithuania and San Marino in the qualifying round, the Netherlands saw off the challenge of Austria, Portugal and Croatia in the elite round to book their spot at the final tournament in Serbia. Having missed out on a place at the 2010 edition, Albert Stuivenberg’s side made up for lost time by breezing through Group B with wins over Germany and Romania and a goalless draw with Czech Republic. Their reward was a semi-final clash with England, and defender Kyle Ebecilio grabbed the only goal in that game to send the Netherlands through to a final showdown with Germany. They secured their first European title in emphatic style, with three second-half goals putting the seal on a 5-2 victory.
By leading the Netherlands to the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2011, head coach Stuivenberg has proved once again that he has found the winning formula. The former Feyenoord academy manager faces a tough test in Mexico, but with the talented trio of Ebecilio, Depay and Achahbar at his disposal, he has a solid core of players capable of stepping up to the challenge and matching the exploits of the Dutch senior side in South Africa last summer.
|1||Patrick TER MATE|
|3||Stefan DE VRIJ|
|5||Rolando MARTINS INDI|
|18||Mats VAN HUIJGEVOORT|