Dutch National Team's Goalkeeping Shake-Up Ahead of European Qualifier
In anticipation of the upcoming European qualifier against Greece in Eindhoven, Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman has announced a change in goalkeepers for the national team. Mark Flekken, the newly acquired goalkeeper for Brentford, will be taking up the position of the Netherlands' first choice goalkeeper for this important fixture. Koeman confirmed this decision during the pre-match press conference, shedding light on the rationale behind this selection.
Mark Flekken's appointment as the starting goalkeeper comes as the Dutch team grapples with finding a consistent first-choice goalkeeper. Flekken, who joined Brentford in May after his stint with Bundesliga side Freiburg, has been chosen over Andries Noppert, a surprising inclusion in last year's World Cup squad who had not previously earned a cap.
Coach Koeman explained his choice, stating, "Mark Flekken is going to be in goal because I believe he deserves it, considering his fitness and sustained good form. He has been part of the squad for an extended period now." This opportunity marks the fifth cap in Flekken's international career and his first appearance in the national team since June of the previous year.
Addressing the decision to bench Noppert, Koeman clarified, "Andries had a commendable World Cup performance but faced injuries during a certain period. In such situations, choices have to be made."
Since his return as the national team coach in January, succeeding Louis van Gaal, Koeman had previously chosen Justin Bijlow and Jasper Cillessen as goalkeepers for his four previous matches in charge. However, the circumstances have evolved, with Bijlow of Dutch champions Feyenoord currently sidelined due to injury, and Cillessen being dropped from the squad due to a run of poor form with his club, NEC.
Regarding Bijlow's future role as the No. 1 goalkeeper once he regains fitness, Koeman remained non-committal, stating, "We'll have to assess the situation at that time. He did perform as the goalkeeper during the Nations League finals in June, but we cannot predict what will transpire in the coming months." Koeman emphasized his desire to establish a stable first-choice goalkeeper, acknowledging that frequent changes in this position pose challenges for the team.
Following the match against Greece, the Dutch national team is scheduled to travel to Dublin for a crucial encounter with Ireland on Sunday. This match holds significant importance in the group, which also includes France, as the Netherlands aim to solidify their standing in the European qualifiers.