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Dutch wonder kid Van Domselaar not daunted by facing France


Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Daphne van Domselaar expected to have a better view of watching the Netherlands defend their title as European champions than she did as a fan from the stands at Euro 2017 on home soil.

The 22-year-old goalkeeper travelled to England for Euro 2022 as understudy to the vastly experienced Sari van Veenendaal, only to be thrust into the spotlight when the Dutch captain suffered a shoulder injury early in their opening game against Sweden.

Van Domselaar had just one international appearance to her name prior to the tournament, but that lack of experience has not shown as she has shone in front of a huge travelling Dutch support.

Twice Netherlands games against Sweden and Switzerland in Sheffield broke the record for a group game at a women’s Euro not involving the host nation.

A crowd of 22,596 saw Van Domselaar save her country from potentially an embarrassing early exit against the Swiss with key saves when the match was delicately poised at 1-1 before Mark Parsons’ side ran out 4-1 winners with three late goals.

“I’m not surprised by the performance or the quality but excited by the impact,” said Parsons. “We’ve all seen the quality, we know our players very well. 

“You hope this is the impact, it is what you dream of as a coach when you make a sub.”

The reward for making it through the group stages for the holders is a mouthwatering clash with France in Rotherham on Saturday.

“That will be the most important game of my career,” Van Domselaar told reporters, but without any hint of nerves ahead of the big occasion.

“It’s a challenge but that’s logical for the quarter-final.”

Van Domselaar’s performances have quickly made her the good news story of a difficult tournament so far for the Dutch.

As well as Van Veenendaal, Paris Saint-Germain forward Lieke Martens’ tournament has been ended early by injury, while star striker Vivianne Miedema missed the last two matches due to a positive case of coronavirus.

“I’m living the experience. I’m enjoying every game and every minute but also seeing the nice messages can help bring me more comfort and enjoyment,” Van Domselaar added on the explosion of her social media following.

“I don’t feel the pressure. I know what I can do. It’s nice to be important for the team.”

Miedema is expected to be fit to face France after returning to training, but Les Bleues remain favourites to progress given their smoother path to the last eight.

Corinne Diacre’s side were on a 16-game winning run before Iceland’s late equaliser for a 1-1 draw to complete Group D, which included a 3-1 win over the Netherlands at the Tournoi de France in February.

But Van Domselaar believes the Dutch will relish the role of underdogs come Saturday as they attempt to inflict a quarter-final exit on the French for the fourth consecutive women’s Euro.

“We came to win. As holders maybe there is more pressure but we’ve had some underdog roles in the past.

“That will be the same against France. Then the pressure doesn’t matter so much.”

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