Boy Waterman and the Young Orange keep home crowds happy

June 22, 2007

Goalkeeper Boy Waterman reacts after saving a penalty against England. Koen van Weel / ReutersThey may not be Marco van Basten’s A-side, but “Jong Oranje” — the Dutch Under-21 team who face Serbia in the final of the European Championship on Saturday — are drumming up considerable excitement at home.

The heroics of keeper Boy Waterman, who made three fine saves during Wednesday’s epic penalty shoot-out with England as well as scoring from his own spot-kick, certainly helped.

“Boy oh Boy, we’re through!” celebrated the top selling daily Telegraaf on its front page the next day, alongside a photo of Boy’s delighted grin at his team’s 13-12 victory.

Whereas some of the crowds have been so small that testy verbal exchanges on the pitch have been audible even to those watching at home, the Dutch team, the defending champions, have managed to draw a more respectable fan base.

Some 23,500 spectators turned out to see the Netherlands play England for a place in the final, and UEFA says total attendances have already surpassed the mark seen in last year’s Under-21 finals in Portugal.

The great and the good of Dutch soccer are lining up to deliver their assessment on the young team, after Jong Oranje coach Foppe de Haan opted to abandon the traditional Dutch 4-3-3 system in favour of 4-4-2.

Johan Cruyff has warned de Haan in his column to be “more careful” and that his view of 4-3-3 as old fashioned could be “extremely damaging” for Dutch football. “4-3-3 is the lifeline of the Dutch game,” he said.

Alex Hudson is a Reuters correspondent based in Amsterdam

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Any good prospects there? I heard Bosko Jankovic was a bit good. Anyone else?

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