Vlatko Andonovski said his United States team will do “whatever it takes” when they face the Netherlands at the Women’s World Cup on Thursday in a re-run of the 2019 final.
The Americans won 2-0 in 2019 to retain their crown and now meet the Dutch again in the biggest game of the group stages in Australia and New Zealand.
Both teams won their opening game at this World Cup and will do battle in Wellington in the fight for the top spot in Group E — and with it possibly an easier match in the last 16.
The clash is a 33,000 sell-out and will give a good indication of how far both sides can go this time.
“For us, it’s just a very important game in the group stage and we will do whatever it takes,” Andonovski said on Wednesday, refusing to call it another “final”.
The United States began their bid for an unprecedented third World Cup crown in a row with a 3-0 win over Vietnam.
The Netherlands beat another debutant in Portugal, 1-0, but were more comfortable than the scoreline suggested.
Andonovski’s side had 26 shots at the Vietnamese goal, but with just seven on target and three goals to show for it, the coach wants them to be more ruthless.
“We’ve spent time looking into it in different ways,” he said of what they had been doing to improve in front of goal.
“On the pitch in training, but also reviewing videos, talking with individual players and helping them with their approach.”
The Americans still have veterans of the 2015 and 2019 winning squads, including Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, but they have complemented that with 14 World Cup newcomers.
Midfielder Rose Lavelle, who scored the second goal in the 2019 final and is set to make her 90th appearance for the US, has been impressed by the youngsters.
“We have 14 players new to a World Cup, but they are 14 really, really freaking good players, so I have so much confidence and pride stepping onto the field with them,” said the 28-year-old.
The Netherlands are not quite the force they were, having lost Sarina Wiegman as coach and missing star striker Vivianne Miedema, who is recovering from a serious knee injury.
But current coach Andries Jonker believes the rest of the world, the Dutch included, are closing in on the United States.
“This is the development of women’s football,” he said.
“Are we getting closer? The feeling is yes. Tomorrow is the first time we can check if we are closer or not.”
Jonker is anticipating a game of what he called “modern women’s football” — a fight from the first minute to the last.
“We both need a win again, both want to win the group, so it’s going to be a really good match.”
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