Koeman won't rest on his laurels

BRUSSELS • Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman warned there is still much work to do, as the Dutch continued their resurgence with a 1-1 friendly draw with Belgium in Brussels on Tuesday.

Youngster Arnaut Groeneveld's first international goal before the half-hour mark gave the Dutch a share of the spoils, after Dries Mertens fired World Cup semi-finalists Belgium into a sixth-minute lead.

It was another strong showing from the Oranje after Saturday's stunning 3-0 Nations League victory over Germany. Belgium remain unbeaten at home since a loss to Spain in September 2016.

The Dutch are on the mend after failing to qualify for consecutive major tournaments in this year's World Cup and Euro 2016.

"I think there is still a lot of work to do, but we've shown that we've made good progress lately. At the end of the match, we tried to play more offensively to try to win," said Koeman, who took over as national team coach in February after he was dismissed as Everton manager last year.

"We had the best chances and, overall, we can be very happy with the last 10 days.

"We have laid a foundation. A lot of people, before the Nations League, didn't give us much chance of getting any points. But now we have three already and we want to get some more."

The Netherlands aim to pick up more points from Nations League games against France and Germany to secure their status as one of 10 seeds for the Euro 2020 qualifying draw in December.

"The most important thing is to get a seeding for the draw and that is possible if we get a few more points," Koeman added.

The Dutch will host world champions France in Rotterdam on Nov 16 and complete their Nations League group-stage play against the Germans in Gelsenkirchen three days later.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, who was also sacked by Everton and replaced by Koeman in 2016, said his side's performance dipped after they conceded the equaliser.

"Unfortunately, we gave the ball away that cost us the goal and there was a different performance after the goal, but we didn't give in," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2018, with the headline 'Koeman won't rest on his laurels'. Print Edition | Subscribe