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Women’s World Cup finalists Netherlands to meet Austria in Malta friendly

A high-profile women’s international friendly is expected to take place in Malta as the Netherlands and Austria are set to rub shoulders on our shores.

Earlier this month, the Times of Malta had reported that the matchup between the two national teams was being circulated in the Dutch media already.

The two football associations announced that they will be based on the Maltese islands during the February international window.

The Netherlands and Austria will meet in a couple of friendlies, both at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

The first match is scheduled for February 17 at 18.00 while the second and final encounter is pencilled for four days later, with the same kick-off time.

The Dutch side, under the new guidance of Andries Jonker, sit 8th in the FIFA Rankings and they will be using this camp as preparation for this summer’s 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

They 2017 European champions will be eyeing to go one step further than the previous edition when they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in the 2019 final against the United States.

The USA are one of the Netherlands’ opponents in the 2023 group stages, with the other teams being Vietnam and the winner from the Group A play-off.

They are expected to call up their best players including Inter’s Stefanie Van Der Gragt, Milan’s Aniek Nouwen, Dominique Janssen of Wolfsburg, Lyon’s Danielle van de Donk, Lieke Martens – now at Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus’ forward Lineth Beerensteyn.

Unfortunately for them, clinical forward and one of the best players in women’s football Vivienne Miedema won’t be available for selection after sustaining an ACL injury earlier this season.

Austria, on their part, will be playing in Malta for the second time after being one of the participants in the 2021 Visit Malta Women’s Trophy.

Coached by Irene Fuhrmann, Austria were one of the interesting packages in the recent 2022 European Championships where they arrived until the quarter-finals before losing 2-0 to eventual finalists Germany.

Ranked 19th in the world, Austria have plenty of experienced players in their squad including Arsenal’s Manuela Zinsberger, Roma’s Carina Wenninger, Bayern Munich’s Sarah Zadrazil and Laura Feiersinger of Eintracht Frankfurt.

The squad is expected to be named next week.

“By the time the Nations League starts in the fall, we want to compete against strong teams to benefit and learn from the games,” coach Furhmann told the association’s website.

The Netherlands, who are preparing for the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer, offer us this opportunity and will challenge us at all stages of the game. We are looking forward to the duels.”

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