Angry Koeman blames himself for ’embarrassing’ defeat to Italy

Koeman (in white) tries to rally his players during the defeat to Italy. Photo: ANP/Koen van Weel

Head coach Ronald Koeman branded the Netherlands’ first-half performance against Italy “sloppy” and “embarrassing” after the men’s team suffered their second defeat in a week in the Nations’ League third place match.

Oranje were 2-0 down after 20 minutes, both goals coming from moves that started with defender Federico Dimarco running unopposed down the left-hand channel.

Koeman said the difference between the teams was not tactical or technical, but came down to a lack of preparation and mentality.

“The first 45 minutes were embarrassing and I blame myself for that,” he said.

“I wasn’t able to spell out the most important things in football: hard work, taking responsibility, man-marking and defending, like we did in the second half.”

Koeman refused to pick out individual players, insisting that the flaws ran through the whole team.

“If you look at how the two goals came about: we didn’t shut down, we didn’t mark man to man, we were ball-watching while our opponents pushed forward – that was my biggest disappointment today.”

Oranje improved after the interval and pulled a goal back through Steven Bergwijn’s composed finish. But Federico Chiesa restored the two-goal cushion after Denzel Dumfries lost the ball in midfield, and Georginio Wijnaldum’s late goal was no more than a consolation.

The Dutch team lost their opening Euro 2024 qualifying match 4-0 in France, conceding three goals in the opening 20 minutes, and were beaten 4-2 by Croatia in the Nations League semi-final last Wednesday.

Their only win in Koeman’s second spell in charge has been a 3-0 win at home to GIbraltar. The next Euro 2024 qualifiers are against Greece in Eindhoven on September 7 and away to Ireland on September 10.

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