Netherlands and Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has admitted that he was ‘convinced’ that his country were going to win the World Cup before their penalty shootout defeat to Argentina.
Louis van Gaal ’s men looked to be on the way out of the tournament at the quarter-finals having gone 2-0 down to the South American side. Nahuel Molina initially gave Argentina the lead before Lionel Messi doubled their advantage from the penalty spot.
The introduction of Burnley flop Wout Weghorst gave the Dutch fresh impetus though, the striker reducing the deficit seven minutes from time with a fantastic header. He then got on the scoresheet once more in the final seconds as he finished off a fantastic free-kick routine to send the game into extra-time.
Penalties were to be the Netherlands’ downfall though with Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghius failing to convert. Speaking after his nation’s defeat, Barcelona star De Jong admitted that he thought the Dutch were going to be victorious in Qatar.
As quoted by NOS, the midfielder said: "I was convinced this was our World Cup. It wasn't meant to be."
He continued: "Looking back on my own tournament, I feel down. I was convinced we could win this tournament."
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As it happens though, the Dutch’s long wait for another major trophy extends to at least 36 years having only won one Euros title - that coming back in 1988. They have reached three World Cup finals and two further semi-finals but are yet to taste glory in the competition.
Their next opportunity to lift silverware is set to come next summer. They have already booked their place in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals.
Their hero on the day, Weghorst, also shared his teammate’s sentiments having been left in tears come the final whistle against Argentina. He said: "We were so close. It's so hard to accept that it's over. The dream that we all had as a kid, has collapsed. It wasn't meant to be. We will stay together as the group we are, we will remain strong. We will come back.
"These were the most beautiful 3 weeks of my life as a footballer. I played the EURO'S, but a World Cup is really something different."
The Dutch have already shaken up their backroom staff in the aftermath of their defeat to Argentina. Former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has stepped back with Ronald Koeman set to take the reins of his country once more.
In the meantime, Argentina set up a semi-final meeting with Croatia on Tuesday after the Europeans beat pre-tournament favourites Brazil on penalties.