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Fueling confidence, trying things out and reaching the final stage of attack; these were the most important goals for the Netherlands CP team ahead of their final friendly in preparation for the upcoming IFCPF European Championships on home soil. And they achieved all three targets with flying colours, with a double-digit victory over the national Under-20 CP side on Saturday. "We are going to the European Championships with a good feeling."
“We have scored a lot, boosting our confidence in the run-up to the European Championships.”
Max Raeven is satisfied when he looks at the perfectly cut pitch at the KNVB Campus. In spite of the long dry spell, the pitches look in immaculate condition just over two weeks before the European Championships kick off. Raeven is very much looking forward to the event. The coach of the Netherlands CP team has been working for months to get his men in shape and they can’t wait to show what they’re worth.
The run-up to the tournament was slightly different than hoped for, with six consecutive losses in as many matches. The Netherlands faced Argentina, England and Germany twice and on all occasions, these opponents were too strong for Raeven and his men. But the national coach doesn’t despair. On the contrary: "We haven’t won much, that’s a fact", he admits, shrugging his shoulders. "But we‘ve improved every second game compared to the first game and we might have deserved to win those games as well."
To boost the team’s confidence in the run-up to the opening game against Germany, the Netherlands CP team played Dutch side Eldenia and the national Under-20 CP side after the six international friendlies. And those two matches ended in resounding victories. "We have trained a lot on the final phase of an attack, and it showed in those two matches. We scored a lot, boosting our confidence in the run-up to the European Championships."
How about the line-up for the opening game against Germany? Raeven says he needs to give it some more thought. "We, the staff, are going to put that down on paper in the coming week. But it’s clear that we don’t have a fixed line-up. This is a team effort and we rely on our unity, so all fourteen players are important. Each of them knows what is expected of him. Today we played without a CP3-class player in the first period. That way you can win too. That awareness must be there."
Our preparation may not have been up to par, but that also applied to Russia at the World Cup and see where they are now.
What’s next? Raeven shakes his head. “Our preparation may not have been up to par, but that also applied to Russia at the World Cup and see where they are now.
In the quarter-finals! I impressed that upon the squad." And the comparison doesn’t stop there, the national coach says. "Russia played on home turf, and that also applies to us. Who knows what’s possible. Whatever happens, I hope that a lot of people will come to watch our games and that we can finally show them what we’re capable of."