July 21, (THEWILL) – The Dutch female football team displayed their gold winning credentials in a devastating attacking performance to thrash African qualifiers Zambia 10-3 in Wednesday’s Group F Olympic football opener in Tokyo.
As lopsided as the result may make the game appear, it does nothing to show that Zambia actually put up a fight with the brilliant Barbra Banda in particular. The She-polopolo of Zambia caused the Dutch some problems defensive worries that the Sarina Wiegman must improve on.
This defensive liability was observable from the very first scoring chance of the game which came Zambia’s way. But a mighty miss by Grace Chanda in in the early exchanges spared the Dutch and allowed them to be the side to break the deadlock.
The Netherlands found a breakthrough in the ninth minute when Vivianne Miedema’s first half hattrick began. Seven minutes later, and it was three with two quickfire goals, by Lieke Martens and Miedema again, coming in on the 14th and 15th minutes to put Zambia at a three-goal deficit and under pressure of being loaded with a barrage of goals from all sides.
Fortunately, at that point of the game, Zambia was able to stem the tide and bring some of their own pressure to bear. Barbra Banda scored Zambia’s first goal to cut the deficit and give her teammates the chance to rally back together and mount a strong push for a comeback.
It lasted for mostly 20 minutes before the Dutch resumed their goal-scoring with three more goals in the final 15 minutes of the half. Miedema’s hattrick, Martens’ double and Shanice Van de Sanden’s only goal just before the last minute of the first half demonstrated the gulf in class between both sides.
The Zambia team were on the ropes so far behind with another 45 minutes still ahead to play. It looked every inch like it was going to be as bad an opening Olympic match as it could be imagined. There was no redeeming change for them in the second half either.
For the fourth time, the Dutch were celebrating a Midema goal, as she resumed the pummelling 14 minutes after play resumed. Jill Roord added to the misery of the Zambians before substitutes, Lineth Beerensteyn, who came in for Midema, and Victoria Pelova, in for Danielle van de Donk, completed the rout.
There might have been no way to catch up with that scoreline but the bite of the outclassing was softened when the brilliant Banda, that scored early to break the first half Dutch goal rush, scored two more times in two minutes, the 81st and 82nd minutes, to give Zambia some consolation.
But, 10-3 still is a trouncing by a large breadth and makes the Dutch one of the favourites for a gold podium. With strikers like Midema, Arsenal women’s highest goal-scorer, and Martens, Barcelona’s UEFA Women’s Champions League winning forward, they can wreak havoc to any defense as they clearly showed.
However, two well-taken Banda goals inside two late minutes raise questions about their defense. Should they meet another team with as strong a strike partnership as they have, it will be a game of countless goals which they are not certain to win. They will have to work hard to protect their high line by pressing the ball in midfield, while giving the defense more cover.
For the Zambians, coming back from this big defeat will take some doing but they can build on the striking quality that Banda demonstrated in the final minutes and play around her prolific display in front of goal that gave her the hattrick. It is not over for them with that format and the lessons learnt from this loss.