Ronald Koeman could not lead Netherlands to victory as the Croatians beat them 4-2 at the end of extra time
According to Dutch coach Ronald Koeman, Croatia taught the Netherlands a valuable lesson by defeating them 4-2 in extra time and advancing to the Nations League final.
Despite the Dutch team scoring a last-minute goal to force extra time, the experienced Croatians, who finished third in the previous World Cup, scored two more goals in the additional 30 minutes to secure their spot in the final against either Italy or Spain.
“There were clear moments that showed where we need to improve,” Koeman told reporters.
“They were just a bit smarter, a bit more secure in possession, and overall they deserved the win.”
Koeman’s return as the head coach of the Dutch national team has not been successful so far. He took over from Louis van Gaal after the Qatar World Cup, but his team suffered a heavy defeat of 4-0 against France in his first games in March. They only managed to secure a 3-0 victory against the weaker team of Gibraltar.
According to Koeman, his team has made progress since those games, but they still have not achieved the level they aspire to.
“We clearly had a team now that had the right energy, that put up a fight. That’s something we can build on,” Koeman said.
“But we played against a Croatian team that showed why it finished second and third at the most recent World Cups. We need to learn from that.”
In September, the Netherlands will continue their efforts to qualify for Euro 2024 by playing against Ireland and Greece.