Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny is targeting his best victory yet as he prepares for a must-win Euro 2024 qualifier against the Netherlands.

The game in Dublin appears to be a make-or break affair for Ireland, who have collected just three points from their first four Group B fixtures and will effectively be out of the race for qualification if they lose to the Dutch.

Memories of a famous Irish victory over the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier in 2001 have inevitably come to the fore in recent days, but Kenny is reluctant to compare his team to the one in which Shay Given, Roy Keane, Damien Duff and Robbie Keane played.

Kenny said: “We’re not comparing ourselves to the team of 2001, they had some of the best players to ever play for Ireland.

“We’re an emerging team. We’ve shown a capacity to raise our game in front of our own support, our impassioned support and we’ve put in some very good performances at home there.

“It’s a game that will challenge us. Holland have players of the highest calibre, players with the top clubs.

“We’ve gone toe-to-toe with some of the best teams and we must raise our game and get our best victory yet as a team. That’s what we’d have to do and that’s the challenge for us.

“We’ll need the supporters to help us do that, we need that energy in the ground. We need that high-octane support to be really passionate and get behind the team and give the players energy.

“All their physical stats are very high after Paris in the heat, a tough game, so to go again, we’ll need everyone to really fire.”

Ireland finalised their preparations at a sunny Abbotstown on Saturday after recovering from Thursday night’s energy-sapping 2-0 defeat in France.

Defender Enda Stevens and forward Will Keane are out of the game through injury and strikers Sinclair Armstrong and Jonathan Afolabi have been drafted into the squad.

Whatever team Kenny picks, the players will know the stakes could hardly be higher with failure simply not an option.

Kenny said: “We know a victory is important for us, we know how important it is, that’s where it is. We’ll prepare well – as well as we can after just coming back on Thursday night – and make sure we’re ready.

“The players are clear on how we’re going to play and we’ll certainly be tested against this team. We’ll have to match them and we are capable of doing that and we have to show the belief and conviction to try to get the win that we need.”

Defender Shane Duffy, who made his first international appearance since June last year in the game at the Parc des Princes, is a veteran of the 1-0 Euro 2016 victory over Italy and knows he and his team-mates need to summon up a similar spirit to get what they need against the Dutch.

Duffy said: “It’s a huge game. Something we’ve to all thrive off and make it another special night as it’s more memories we can create.

“I think personally the games, they’re memories that I talk about to my children, big nights for your country. It’s another chance for us to make it another special night at the Aviva and make more memories.”

Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny has called on his players to produce the performance of their lives after their Euro 2024 qualification hopes were left dangling by a thread.

A 2-0 Group B defeat in Paris on Thursday evening means Ireland have taken just three points from their first four games, and realistically they need to beat the Netherlands in Dublin on Sunday to stand any chance of progressing.

Speaking in the bowels of the Parc des Princes after an energy-sapping night at the hands of the mesmeric Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, Kenny said: “We’ve just got to get ready for Sunday now.

“We knew that if Holland beat Greece tonight and we beat Holland, we’re level on Sunday. We’ve got Greece at home and Gibraltar away in October, so it’s that big for us. We know it’s that big for us.

“The energy of the home crowd has been special, it’s been electric at home and we need that again on Sunday to pull out the performance of our lives. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

Ireland arrived in Paris knowing they were up against it because of the quality of both the opposition and the heat, and while they battled manfully throughout, the gulf in class – Didier Deschamps was able to bring Champions League winners on from his bench while one of Kenny’s substitutes, James McClean, is currently playing his football with League Two Wrexham – eventually told.

Aurelien Tchouameni blasted the French into a 19th-minute lead as Ireland once again conceded from distance, and the side ranked second in the world never looked back against opponents rated 53rd by FIFA.

They increased their lead three minutes after the restart through substitute Marcus Thuram, a first-half replacement for the injured Olivier Giroud, and although it took a good save by Mike Maignan to keep out Chiedozie Ogbene’s header, the Republic had to defend for dear life to ensure the margin of victory did not stretch beyond 2-0.

Kenny said: “To be fair, obviously France are a world-class team, a really top-class international team, one of the best teams in the world, if not the best.

“But I can’t fault my players. I thought they gave everything really in the match. We were beaten by a better team for sure. For a lot of the players it’s the best team they have played against.

“Of course we could have done better at times, for sure, but everyone gave everything of themselves.”

France boss Didier Deschamps admitted his team could have been more clinical, but was largely satisfied.

He said: “We could have done more, but broadly speaking I’m very satisfied with the result and the performance of the players.

“Kylian did good things, even if he didn’t score. It’s not always Olivier Giroud or Kylian Mbappe supposed to score. It’s more about focussing on the goal, to qualify.

“We had many chances to score, especially from outside the box. We were expecting a good team from the Irish team. With their three defenders, they were very present.

“They created some difficult situations for us, especially if you remember the game in Dublin which was a bit risky for us. It’s a team that plays very deep and there were some difficulties.”

Evan Ferguson has been ruled out of the Republic of Ireland’s upcoming Euro 2024 qualifying matches against France and the Netherlands.

The 18-year-old picked up a knee injury during Brighton’s 3-1 win against Newcastle on Saturday, in which he scored all three of his side’s goals, and after being assessed by national team medical staff has withdrawn from the squad.

He joined up with the team on Sunday but it has been decided that he will not be fit to feature in either match during the current international window, with the squad due to travel to France later on Tuesday.

Stephen Kenny’s team have three points from their first three matches in Group B and need a positive result in Paris on Thursday and against the Dutch in Dublin next week to keep alive realistic hopes of reaching next summer’s finals.

The manager has Norwich’s Adam Idah, Preston’s Will Keane, Hull’s Aaron Connolly and Chiedozie Ogbene of Luton available as his other forward options.

A prayer before making their way into the stadium was the perfect way for the Jamaican quartet to start their bid in the women’s 4X400m relays and they will indeed challenge for a medal at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

This, as they booked their spot in Sunday’s showpiece event, after finishing tops in their heat on Saturday.

Cherokee Young, running from lane eight, ran the lead leg for the Jamaicans handing off to Nickesha Pryce, who ran a well-paced leg to send Shiann Salmon on her way.

Salmon did well to maintain the gap for Stacey-Ann Williams, who only had to run steady and true to take the team home in a new world leading time 3:22.74.

They won ahead of Canada (3:23.29), with Netherlands (3:23.75) taking the third automatic qualifying spot.

Great Britain won the second heat in 3:23.33, ahead of the favourites United States, who were later disqualified via Technical Rule 24.7, as they passed the baton outside the takeover zone.

That meant Belgium (3:23.63) and Italy (3:23.86) got second and third respectively, while Poland (3:24.05) and Ireland (3:26.18) got the two fastest non-automatic qualifying spots.

The final will be the curtain-call event of the nine-day Championships at 2:47pm Jamaica time.

Catch live action of the 2023 World Athletics Championships by downloading the Sportsmax App.

Jamaica missed out on the cut for the final of the Mixed 4x400 metres relay, as they could only manage fifth in heat two of the event on Saturday's opening day of the ongoing World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

The Jamaican quartet of Demish Gaye, Natoya Goule-Toppin, Malik James-King and Stacey-Ann Williams, running in that order, struggled from the off and was at the back of the pack for the first two legs.

In fact, it was on the third leg that James King tried to force the initiative and gradually made progress, but faded in the latter stages, leaving Williams with much to do on anchor.

Despite facing an uphill task, Williams showed grit and determination to bring Jamaicans from eighth into fifth and ninth across the two heats in a season’s best 3:14.05.

They finished behind the Femke Bol led Dutch team, who won in 3:12.12, followed by France (3:12.25) and Czech Republic (3:12.52), with fourth-placed Germany taking one of the non-automatic qualifying spots.

United States with a World lead 3:10.41, Great Britain, with a national record 3:11.19, Belgium (3:11.81) and Ireland (3:13.90), are the other finalists.

 

You can catch live action of the 2023 World Athletic Championships by downloading the Sportsmax App.

Bas de Leede produced a dazzling first-ever ODI ton to fire Netherlands to the World Cup with a dramatic four-wicket victory over Scotland.

De Leede starred with bat and ball, picking up a first ODI five-for before smashing 123 with the bat to haul the Netherlands home and punch their tickets to India later this year.

Having put Scotland into bat, Netherlands made the perfect start as Logan van Beek (1/49) struck in the first over to dismiss Matthew Cross (0).

But Scotland steadied the ship through Christopher McBride (32) and Brandon McMullen (106) before opener McBride became the first of De Leede’s five scalps, pulling straight into the hands of Van Beek at midwicket with George Munsey (9) falling shortly after.

But McMullen began to take control of the innings on the way to the second century of his career alongside Richie Berrington (64).

The pair combined for a stand of more than 150 runs to leave Scotland in rude health at 201 for four by the time McMullen was eventually caught behind by Scott Edwards off the bowling of Ryan Klein.

Klein then bowled Michael Leask (1) before De Leede removed Berrington’s middle stump, but Scotland rallied through an unbeaten 38 off 28 balls from Tomas Mackintosh as well as a useful knock from Chris Greaves (18) to set the Dutch 278 in 44 overs to book their place at the World Cup.

Netherlands began their innings quickly, with openers Max O’Dowd (20) and Vikramjit Singh (40) taking just 8.2 overs to bring up their 50 partnership, before Leask trapped O’Dowd leg before.

Leask repeated the trick in his next over, this timing sending Singh back to the hutch as Scotland began to slow the run rate.

Having starred with the bat, McMullen then made his first contribution with the ball with the wicket of Wesley Barresi (11) to leave Netherlands on 94 for three after 20 overs.

Teja Nidamanuru (10) was next to fall four overs later as Chris Greaves earned his first scalp of the afternoon but De Leede (123) and Scott Edwards (25) combined to rejuvenate the Dutch chase, bringing up 50-run stand in just 40 balls before Edwards fell to Mark Watt LBW.

De Leede then opened up, powering past 50 in 55 balls before reaching his century in just 84 alongside Zulfiqar (33), as the pair combined to produce a huge final few overs to surmount the 50 runs required from the final four overs to seal qualification in stunning fashion.

UAE edge USA for ninth

An unbeaten 151 from Asif Khan powered UAE to a narrow victory over USA by just a single run in Harare.

Khan produced an impressive knock to help his side post 308 for four, their highest total of the tournament, but middle over contributions for USA from Monank Patel (61), Aaron Jones (75), and Gajanand Singh (69) set up a grandstand finish.

But the American tail were unable to get their side over the line, as two wickets in the final over from Sanchit Sharma sealed victory.

It was the opening partnership that proved so devastating for UAE, as Sharma (57) and Khan combined for an initial stand of 107 before the former was caught and bowled by Nosthush Kenjige.

Khan was simply unstoppable for UAE, inspiring his side’s total to the brink of 300 alongside Basil Hameed (44), before hitting his 18th boundary of the innings to set USA 308 to win.

USA started brightly in their chase, with Saiteja Mukkamalla hitting a quickfire 21 off 17 balls alongside Sushant Modani (9) as the Americans raced to 32 off the first six overs before Mukkamalla fell to Muhammad Jawadullah.

Modani followed just two balls later to leave USA 32 for two but Patel and Jones combined to lift their side to a much healthier 144 for three before Patel was bowled by Aayan Afzal Khan with 20 overs remaining.

A rapid 69 from just 44 balls from Singh then shifted the momentum of the match with USA left needing 62 from the remaining 46 balls as Singh was eventually dismissed by Junaid Siddique.

Shayan Jahangir (32) led the final run chase to set up a nervy finish, with USA requiring 11 from the final over to win.

But Sharma dismissed both Nisarg Patel and Ali Khan in the final over to ensure UAE sneaked over the line and sealed ninth.

Sri Lanka and Windies round off Super Six

The Super Six comes to a close tomorrow, as already qualified Sri Lanka take on West Indies in Harare.

Windies have endured a torrid time so far in Zimbabwe, but will be hopeful of ending their campaign with what would be an impressive victory over table-toppers Sri Lanka.

The Lions now know they will face Netherlands in Sunday’s final and will hope to continue their momentum with another strong display.

 

Describing the West Indies as the worst fielding team in the ongoing CWC qualifiers in Zimbabwe, Coach Darren Sammy believes the team’s consecutive losses to the hosts and the Netherlands, is indicative of the true state of West Indies cricket.

The frustrated head coach was speaking after the West Indies lost to the Netherlands in a super over on Monday which leaves their chances of qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup in India hanging by a thread.

Having made 374-6, the West Indies were unable to successfully restrict the Dutch side from getting to 374-9 for a tie and triggering a super over.  Logan van Beek, who scored 28 from 14 balls to get his side to the super over than smashed three sixes and three fours while scoring 30 runs off Jason Holder’s over.

He then took two wickets and conceded eight runs as the West Indies failed miserably in attempting to overhaul, the record-setting 30-run over by the Netherlands.

Sammy said afterwards, that the West Indies were on track for a possible victory but subsequently lost the plot.

“[At the] halfway stage, 374 on the board, I thought the batters did excellently but again it shows you where we are as a team. We were kind of poor tactically. We didn’t stick to the plans as long as possible and we just thought because we had 375 on the board that we should win, but cricket is not played like this,” he said.

“And it’s a lesson for us that you can’t take any game of cricket for granted.”

The head coach who was appointed just last month, believes his team approaching its nadir but remained optimistic about its future.

“I am a very positive thinker and I understand the journey that I have to take with this team. Sometimes you’ve got to reach rock bottom to come back up,” he said.

“I understand the challenges ahead and I also understand that things will not change overnight and it’s a true reflection of where our cricket is at the moment and we have a lot of work to do.”

The loss to the Netherlands means the West Indies, two-time champions, now face the near impossible task of qualifying for the World Cup. They must now win all their Super Six matches while hoping that Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka lose two of theirs and that the Netherlands lose at least one of theirs in order to qualify.

The West Indies will enter the super sixes stage of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers with it all to do after they were stunned in a super over by the Netherlands on Monday.

Teams will take points earned from the group stage into the super sixes if you beat the other qualified teams from your group.

As a result of their losses to Zimbabwe and the Netherlands, the West Indians will enter the super sixes stage with no points while the Netherlands will enter with two and Zimbabwe with four.

The West Indies made a seemingly insurmountable 374-6 from their 50 overs after being put in to bat by the Dutch.

The innings was set up excellently with a 101-run opening stand between Brandon King and Johnson Charles.

Charles was first to go for 54 to bring Shamarh Brooks to the crease to join King. The pair put on a further 59 before Brooks fell for 25.

Captain, Shai Hope, was next to make his way out to the middle and just three runs later, King fell for a well made 81-ball 76 to bring Pooran to the crease.

Hope and Pooran, then, added a further 108 before Hope eventually fell for 47 in the 41st over.

Pooran, however, batted excellently, smashing the Dutch bowling all over the Takashinga Sports Club, eventually finishing 104 not out off 65 balls including nine fours and six sixes. Keemo Paul also played extremely well alongside Pooran, finishing unbeaten on 46 off 25 balls including four fours and two sixes.

Bas De Leede and Saqib Zulfiqar each took a pair of wickets for the Netherlands.

The Dutch, on the back of a magnificent 111 from Teja Nidamanuru, produced a spirited chase that saw them equal the West Indies score, and make their highest ODI score in the process, finishing 374-9 off their 50 overs.

It was a well-rounded batting effort as they got valuable contributions from Vikramjit Singh (37), Max O’Dowd (36), Wesley Barresi (27) and Bas De Leede (33) at the top of their innings.

It was then a crucial 143-run fifth-wicket partnership between Nidamanuru and Captain, Scott Edwards, that put the Netherlands on the cusp of victory.

Edwards eventually fell for a 47-ball 67 to leave the Netherlands 313-5 in the 45th over. Saqib Zulfiqar (3) and Nidamanuru (111) then fell in quick succession to leave the Netherlands 327-7 after 46 overs.

Logan Van Beek and Aryan Dutt then batted brilliantly to put on the further 47 needed to prolong the enthralling contest.

Eventually, they found themselves needing 9 from 6 and then one from one before, off the very last ball, Van Beek was dismissed by Alzarri Joseph for 28 off just 14 balls.

The resulting super over gave Van Beek an opportunity to continue the momentum he built during the chase and that is exactly what he did.

He hit a mammoth 30 runs off Jason Holder’s over including three fours and three sixes.

Van Beek was then tasked with bowling the super over to the West Indies pair of Johnson Charles and Shai Hope.

Charles hit the first ball for six before dragging the next ball into the leg side for a single, meaning Hope would need to hit four sixes in a row for victory. The next ball could only produce a single, pretty much ending all hope for the West Indies.

Eventually, the West Indies managed just eight in the super over to give the Netherlands an improbable victory.

 

 

Hosts Zimbabwe produced a second big chase in succession to continue their fine start to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 in Harare.

Sikandar Raza’s unbeaten century carried his team to a six-wicket victory over the Netherlands as Zimbabwe successfully chased down the target of 316 set by the Dutch. 

That follows an opening victory over Nepal in Group A, leaving Zimbabwe in a good position in the race for a spot in the Super Six. 

Nepal bounced back from that opening loss to record their first win of the campaign, as they beat the USA by six wickets. 

Bhim Sharki was the star of the show, making 77 not out, as Nepal chased down 211 against the US, who have now lost twice in as many matches. 

Zimbabwe batters step up in chase again 

Two days after chasing down 291 against Nepal, Zimbabwe found themselves with an even bigger target to achieve against the Netherlands. 

But an unbeaten 102 from Sikandar Raza saw them home in comfortable fashion, reaching 319 for four with 55 balls remaining.

Raza reached his century off just 54 balls, the fastest ever by a Zimbabwean in ODI cricket.

Raza was spectacular with the bat, smashing eight sixes in his 54-ball knock as he carried on the good work of skipper Craig Ervine (50) and Sean Williams (91). 

The Dutch had looked in good position at the halfway stage, making 315 for six as Vikramjit Singh (88) and Scott Edwards (83) gave them a dream start to their tournament. 

Singh and Max O’Dowd (59) put on 120 for the first wicket before Raza bowled O’Dowd, before getting Wesley Barresi out in the same way. 

A 96-run partnership between Singh and Edwards continued the Netherlands’ fine batting effort with Raza again the man to find the breakthrough, removing Singh, on the way to figures of four for 55. 

Richard Ngarava (2/40) chipped in with a couple of useful wickets, including the skipper, but Saqib Zulfiqur’s 34 not out off 31 balls ensured the Dutch went into the interval feeling good. 

Zimbabwe needed to start quickly and they did just that, Ervine and Joylord Gumbie (40) putting on 80 for the first wicket before the captain was removed by Singh. 

Gumbie and Williams then added another 62, and while Shariz Ahmed claimed the wicket of the former, as well as Wessly Madhevere, Zimbabwe were comfortably keeping up with the asking rate. 

Raza joined Williams and the pair added 84 in ten overs to ease any tension, and while Williams eventually departed, it was left to his partner to complete a magnificent all-round performance to see the side home. 

Nepal up and running with US success 

Having suffered the same fate as the Dutch against Zimbabwe, Nepal needed a win against the USA, and got it by six wickets. 

Karan KC (4/33) did the damage with the ball to restrict the Americans to 207, before Bhim Sharki carried Nepal home with seven overs to spare. 

Karan was sensational early on after Nepal had chosen to bowl first, taking four wickets in the first ten overs to reduce the USA to 18 for four. 

Sushant Modani (42) and Gajanand Singh (26) started to rebuild, adding 47 before the latter edged Dipendra Singh Airee to slip. 

That brought keeper Shayan Jahangir to the crease and he counter-attacked in style, making 100 not out from just 79 balls as wickets continued to fall at the other end. 

Gulsan Jha (3/52) finished the job with an over to spare, rattling through the tail to leave Nepal with 208 to win, despite Jahangir’s maiden ODI century. 

Despite Aasif Sheikh falling leg before to Saurabh Netravalkar for 12, that total never looked like being enough, Kushal Burtel (39) and Sharki adding 49 for the second wicket. 

Skipper Rohit Paudel and Kushal Malla both made starts before falling, leaving Nepal on 137 for four as Airee joined Sharki. 

Any danger of a collapse was quickly averted though as the pair added 74 to carry Nepal to a comfortable win. 

Ireland look to get back on track against Scotland 

Attention will turn back to Group B on Wednesday when Ireland take on Scotland in Bulawayo in one of two games. 

Having fallen to defeat to Oman in their opener, Ireland will be keen to make amends at the Queens Sports Club against the Scots, who will be playing their first game of the tournament. 

The other game sees Oman looking to build on that Ireland success when they face the United Arab Emirates. 

The UAE were comfortably beaten by Sri Lanka in their first game and will now face an Oman team full of confidence in the encounter at the Bulawayo Athletic Club. 

Scores in brief 

Zimbabwe beat Netherlands at Harare Sports Club, Harare by six wickets 

Netherlands 315/6 in 50 overs (Vikramjit Singh 88, Scott Edwards 83; Sikandar Raza 4/55, Richard Ngarava 2/40) 
Zimbabwe 319/4 in 40.5 overs (Sikandar Raza 102*, Sean Williams 91; Shariz Ahmed 2/62) 

Nepal beat USA at Takashinga Cricket Club, Harare by six wickets 

USA 207 all out in 49 overs (Shayan Jahangir 100*, Sushant Modani 42; Karan KC 4/33, Gulsan Jha 3/52) 
Nepal 211/4 in 43 overs (Bhim Sharki 77, Dipendra Singh Airee 39*; Steven Taylor 1/14, Saurabh Netravalkar 1/29) 

Wednesday 21 June – Fixtures 

Group B 

Ireland v Scotland at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo 
Oman v United Arab Emirates at Bulawayo Athletic Club, Bulawayo 

 

Italy beat the Netherlands 3-2 in the Nations League third-place play-off in Enschede.

Roberto Mancini’s side, who sealed Nations League bronze for the second tournament running, made a flying start as Federico Dimarco and Davide Frattesi put them 2-0 up in 20 minutes.

Steven Bergwijn reduced the deficit for the Netherlands midway through the second half, but Federico Chiesa struck Italy’s third four minutes later.

Georginio Wijnaldum ensured a nervy finale with the Netherlands’ second goal in the 89th minute, but it was not enough to prevent a third defeat in four games under boss Ronald Koeman, in his second stint in charge.

Croatia face Spain in the final at Feyenoord’s De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam at 1945 on Sunday.

Substitute Bruno Petkovic scored and won a penalty in extra-time as Croatia secured a first Nations League final appearance with a 4-2 victory over the Netherlands in Rotterdam.

The Dinamo Zagreb striker was introduced at the start of the additional period – just seconds after the Dutch had snatched an equaliser in the sixth minute of added time – and delivered a game-changing performance.

Petkovic’s driving run and shot from 25 yards put Croatia in front again before the 28-year-old, who scored an extra-time equaliser in the World Cup quarter-final against Brazil, won a penalty for Luka Modric to make it 4-2.

He also had a second goal ruled out for offside by VAR seconds before the final whistle.

Croatia, who reached the 2018 World Cup final and finished third last year in Qatar, are one win away from their first major trophy, with Spain or Italy standing in the way in Sunday’s final.

They had to do it the hard way as they recovered from Borussia Dortmund midfielder Donyell Malen’s first-half opener by scoring with their first two shots on target after the break.

Mario Pasalic’s 72nd-minute goal capped a turnaround started 17 minutes earlier by Andrej Kramaric’s penalty.

But just when it looked like they could celebrate a place in the final, Noa Lang pounced to force extra-time.

Eight minutes into the additional period Petkovic made his introduction count with the goal which put his side ahead again.

Netherlands’ desperation saw them send Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk up front but their hopes were ended when Manchester United defender Tyrell Malacia pulled down Petkovic and Modric sent goalkeeper Justin Bijlow the wrong way from the penalty spot.

A maiden ODI century from Aiden Markram powered South Africa to a dominant 146-run victory over the Netherlands and a series sweep with it in Johannesburg.

Markram's impressive 175 helped the hosts to an imposing total of 370-8, before Sisanda Magala's five-for skittled any Dutch hope.

Victory not only means the Proteas clean up their two-game series, but also vault West Indies to go eighth in the World Cup Super League table and boost their automatic qualification hopes.

For the Netherlands however, it leaves them further adrift at the bottom as they prepare instead for a trip to Zimbabwe to compete in June's final qualifiers.

South Africa did not make the cleanest start after they were put in to bat, and looked laboured at 32-2 following the loss of Quinton de Kock (8) and Temba Bavuma (6) early on at Wanderers Stadium.

Markram's arrival at the crease saw a dramatic turnaround in fortunes as he punished the visitors with a freewheeling display, aided by David Miller's 91 for a 199-run fifth-wicket partnership.

Spirited efforts from Musa Ahmed (61) and Max O'Dowd (47) in response looked like they had set the stage for the Netherlands to make a game of it.

But the collapse of their tail – orchestrated by Magala with figures of 5-43 – ultimately saw them finish 224 all out, comfortably off the pace and condemned to another loss.

Markram rises to the occasion again

Two days after his 51 not out helped the Proteas to an eight-wicket win in their first game with the Netherlands, Markram was at it again in Johannesburg.

Not only was his 175 his maiden century in ODI cricket, but it also marks his highest individual score at senior international level across any format.

Magala pushes for World Cup spot

Just under 18 months on from his international debut against the Netherlands in November 2021, Magala enjoyed his best game yet with the ball in hand.

It is his first five-for in seven ODIs, and with the World Cup on the horizon, he will have done no damage to his prospects of potential inclusion.

South Africa boosted their chances of making the World Cup as captain Temba Bavuma's unbeaten 90 gave them a comfortable eight-wicket win over the Netherlands.

Needing to win both matches against the Dutch and hope Ireland lose at least one of their three matches against Bangladesh in May in order to qualify automatically for the World Cup, which will be held in India later this year, the Proteas eased to victory on Friday.

This ODI was the second of a three-match series that was supposed to take place in late 2021, but was postponed because of concerns over a COVID-19 variant. The first match ended with no result.

The importance of the match was reflected in the strong squad chosen by South Africa, with Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada included despite their imminent IPL commitments.

Nortje played a key role in restricting the Netherlands to 189 all out despite scores of 45 and 48 from Vikramijit Singh and Teja Nidamanuru respectively, taking 2/24 off his eight overs while Sisanda Magala and Tabraiz Shamsi picked up three wickets each.

It was the Netherlands' second-highest ODI score against South Africa, but the Proteas cruised to the winning total regardless as Bavuma's sublime innings (90 not out from 79 balls) helped them to victory.

Aiden Markram chipped in with a half-century off just 37 balls, though it was his captain who finished the job as Bavuma smashed the ball back past bowler Ryan Klein for four to seal the win.

Virgil van Dijk accepts he has not been performing at his best level but says footballers "are not robots" after being strongly criticised by Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit.

The Liverpool defender's captaincy credentials were questioned by Van Basten in particular following Friday's 4-0 Euro 2024 qualifying defeat to France.

Dutch great Van Basten accused Van Dijk of "making noise but not saying anything" and creating chaos that leads to misunderstandings" in the side.

Fellow former Netherlands international Gullit, speaking alongside Van Basten in his punditry role with Ziggo Sport, said Van Dijk "thinks he is better than the rest".

While Van Dijk is open to opinions, he does not believe the criticism is entirely justified.

"It is clear that we played badly. I am one of the experienced guys, so it is completely justified," he said following Monday's 3-0 win over Gibraltar.

"Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion these days, that's the case. Did I set the bar unrealistically high? I was never perfect.

"But we've had a lot of success with the team. Football players [Van Basten and Gullit] know that better than anyone, have high peaks and deep valleys.

"It's quite normal that you can't always play consistently. That you have a phase as a club or player where you are looking for your level. People should not forget that. 

"It is normal that people make mistakes; it is part of football and that it is very human."

Van Dijk has also been far from his best in a Liverpool shirt this season, but he hopes to return to top form soon.

"You know better than anyone when you are doing something right or not," the 56-cap defender said. "These are difficult times at my club, with lots of ups and downs.

"I am very positive about the future and I try to play my best game ever in every game. We are not robots. Let's not forget that. Maybe people sometimes forget that."

Ronald Koeman acknowledged the Netherlands' "level has to go up" after their meagre 3-0 victory over Gibraltar in the Euro 2024 qualifiers.

Nathan Ake scored twice while Memphis Depay was also on target at De Kuip as Koeman claimed the first win of his second spell in charge, which began with a humbling 4-0 defeat against France three days earlier.

The Oranje's three goals came despite recording 50 shots and having 101 touches in the opposition box - more than they have managed in any other match since Opta began collecting this data in August 2013.

They also registered a remarkable 5.04 expected goals (xG), and Koeman was disappointed by his side's general lacking of a clinical edge.

"I didn't see enough goals tonight," he told NOS. "The opponent obviously didn't co-operate, but we were way too sloppy at times.

"From the beginning, we were inaccurate, and we didn't have the form to create big, good chances. Okay, there was a lot of blocking, but with more sharpness, we score much more often.

"The game and result against France was not good. Now we win, but that makes sense. But overall, it was far too little.

"Aspects such as positional play, ball circulation, taking the right positions - as a winger or defender - really needs to be improved. The football and level has to go up."

Ake's double was the undoubted highlight for the hosts, the defender recording more shot involvements than any other player (nine shots, seven chances created), with only Depay registering more in a single Netherlands match since Opta began collecting the data.

And the Manchester City man drew positives from the fact he and his team-mates were able to conjure as many opportunities as they did.

"Of course, the main aim was to win the match and, besides that, we wanted to score as many goals as possible. Obviously, that didn't work out," Ake added. 

"That we created so many chances was good, but maybe we should have been calmer in how we tried to convert them.

"It doesn't happen very often that I score twice in one game. But it was very crowded where our forwards were, so maybe that created a little more space for the rest of us. At some point, I was even considering the possibility of a hat-trick, but it wasn't to be."

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