November 15 – The Netherlands sealed Europe’s last ticket for next year’s Women’s World Cup in France with a 1-1 draw away to Switzerland. The reigning European champions had won the first leg 4-2.
The Dutch began the second leg in dramatic fashion when their captain Anouk Dekker was sent off after eight minutes for a foul on Switzerland forward Ramona Bachmann, but it didn’t thwart their determination and in the 52nd minute Vivianne Miedema ended any Swiss hopes, finishing a fine attack to score a crucial away goal.
Coumba Sow responded with an equaliser for the hosts, but the strike proved to be nothing more than a consolation goal as no further goals were scored. The Netherlands will join France, England, Germany, Norway, Italy, Scotland, Spain and Sweden plus 15 other qualifiers in the draw in December.
The Dutch FA is considering a ‘farewell’ game ahead of the finals in Amsterdam at the Johan Cruyff Arena, where the men’s national team stages its matches. The governing body remains however concerned about the development of women’s football at home as the Women’s Eredivisie is struggling to get set up. “Incomprehensible, if you ask me,” said Jan Dirk van der Zee, KNVB director of amateur football. “If we want to become a leading football nation in the Netherlands again – luckily we are on the right track again – then success in women’s football is indispensable, the World Cup is a wake-up call.”
In South America Argentina also qualified for the finals as they comfortably saw off Panama 5-1 on aggregate. They held a 4-0 lead from the first leg and ensured their return to the main tournament for the first time in 12 years with a 1-1 away draw.
France, who beat Brazil 3-1 in a friendly on Saturday, will host the World Cup next year from June 7 to July 7.
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