Dutch footballers pleased by 1-2 victory over Belarus, but critical of performance

A difficult victory against Belarus on Sunday put the Dutch national team another step closer to the European Championship 2020. Oranje beat the Russians 1-2 in Minsk, thanks to two goals scored by Georginio Wijnaldum. The Dutch footballers are pleased with the victory, but critical of their performance. 

The victory keeps the Netherlands in the lead in group C of the playoffs, with 15 points from six matches. Germany also has 15 points, but is in second place due to a poorer underlying result. Northern Ireland is in third place with 12 points from six matches. 

Oranje has two more matches left. They play Northern Ireland in Belfast on November 16th, a return for the match on Thursday which Oranje won 3-1. And they return to the Johan Cruijff Arena three days later for a rematch with Estonia. Oranje beat Estonia 4-0 in Talinn last month. 

The Dutch team already qualified for a playoff spot to enter the European Championship 2020 final tournament. But taking first or second place in their group would mean they earn a seed in next year's tournament and can skip the playoff round altogether.

Wijnaldum is happy with his two goals, but sees a lot of room for improvement. "We can do much better, we have already shown that", he said to NOS after the match. "We were not firm in our position game, so we lost the ball a lot. That was also the case against Northern Ireland on Thursday."

"We are happy that we are so close to the European Championship, but we are also critical. There is still some stretch left and we want to get better", Wijnaldum said. "The big lesson today is that we always have to stay focused. But that will be fine. The positive thing about this week is that we've grabbed six points. We also had times at Oranje that we played poorly and then lost games."

Captain Virgil van Dijk expressed similar sentiments to NOS. "After the rest it wasn't good on our part. And that is putting it mildly", he said. "We lost a lot of balls in midfield, which allowed them to counter. We made it difficult for ourselves, so we all have to look carefully in the mirror. It has to be better.