Verbruggen Crucial in Netherlands' Euro 2024 Qualifier
Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen is set to play a crucial role for the Netherlands in their upcoming match against the Republic of Ireland, aiming to secure a spot in the European Championship in Germany next year. Coach Ronald Koeman put an end to speculation regarding the goalkeeping position, choosing Verbruggen over other options.
Verbruggen, who joined Brighton from Anderlecht at the beginning of the season, gets the nod ahead of Justin Bijlow from Feyenoord and Mark Flekken from Brentford. Koeman emphasized the logical decision based on Verbruggen's performances in the last two matches.
The 21-year-old goalkeeper earned his first caps in the recent Euro 2024 qualifying matches, experiencing a 2-1 home loss to France and a 1-0 victory in Greece. Despite the loss to France, the Netherlands stands second in the standings, tied with Greece at 12 points, behind the already-qualified France.
If the Netherlands falls short against Ireland, they can secure second place in their last Group B game against Gibraltar in Faro, Portugal. Verbruggen's development at a young age has impressed Koeman, who acknowledged the unfortunate injury that kept Bijlow out, shaping a different goalkeeping situation.
While Verbruggen is not guaranteed the first-choice spot for the entire European Championship, Koeman sees him as the preferred option for the upcoming matches. The Dutch coach reflected on the varied selection of goalkeepers, including the surprising choice of Andries Noppert at the previous World Cup under Louis van Gaal.
Koeman, who took charge this year, has utilized goalkeepers such as Jasper Cillessen, Justin Bijlow, Mark Flekken, and now Bart Verbruggen. Despite the challenges of the varied selections, Koeman commended their performances.
In a surprising move, Koeman included 17-year-old Jorrel Hato among the defenders, citing the need for left-footed players. This decision proved beneficial as Nathan Ake withdrew due to injury. However, further setbacks occurred with the sidelining of Steven Bergwijn and Brian Brobbey from Ajax. To address these absences, uncapped Toulouse striker Thijs Dallinga has been called up as a replacement.