Chiedozie Ogbene has warned the Republic of Ireland they must expect the Netherlands to be every bit as good as France as they head into Sunday’s do-or-die Euro 2024 qualifier in Dublin.
The 26-year-old Luton frontman and his team-mates were back on home soil on Friday, still licking their wounds after a 2-0 Group B defeat in Paris in which they were subjected to the full armoury at Didier Deschamps’ disposal.
With only three points banked from their first four games – and those from a 3-0 victory over Gibraltar – anything less than a win against the Dutch would leave their qualification hopes in tatters.
🇳🇱 Gakpo x Van Dijk
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) September 7, 2023
But asked if they could a least hope Ronald Koeman’s side would not be as powerful as the French, Ogbene said: “I think they will be as good.
“The Dutch have good experience in this competition. We’ll take nothing for granted. We’ll do our homework and try and get a positive result because that is what we need right now. Any sort of good result to help us control our destiny in this competition.
“Nothing is over until it is over. We like to control our destiny. If we don’t get a positive result, it is out of our hands.”
Ireland were taught a brutal lesson at the Parc des Princes by the side ranked second in the world and had to defend for dear life to stay within touching distance.
The Netherlands are only five places worse off, while Ireland sit in 53rd place in the table and the trip to Paris proved a bruising one.
However, Ogbene knows there is only so much time to reflect before minds have to focus once again.
He said: “It’s difficult for some players because everyone is emotionally engaged in this competition. We all want to qualify for Germany and do well for the nation.
“It’s not as easy as it says, just to move on to Sunday. We have to do it. We have 24 hours (for it) to sink in and let our thoughts run wild.
“After 24 hours, you have to move on because we have a big game on Sunday. If we win that, we’re back in the running.”
Manager Stephen Kenny is hoping that is exactly what happens with knives being sharpened at the prospect of the campaign effectively ending with three games to go.
For a generation of Ireland supporters, memories of a famous 1-0 World Cup qualifier win over a Dutch side which included Edwin Van Der Sar, Jaap Stam, Marc Overmars, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Patrick Kluivert at Lansdowne Road in September 2001 remain vivid and a repeat could hardly be more timely.
Kenny said: “I was a supporter in the crowd at that game. It was an unbelievable performance all right and a great win and a famous win, of course.
“That team was a really top-class Irish team. But from our point of view, that’s what we need to do. We have got to believe that we can put in the performance that can get the result we need.”