September 27, 2023 08:46Modified September 27, 2023 8:46 AM
The Dutch drafts players are ready for the World Cup that starts on Thursday in Curaçao. With four players in the top five of the placement list, national coach Rik Keurentjes hopes for a Dutch successor to the outgoing world champion Roel Boomstra. “It would be nice if we occupied the top four and then they could decide for themselves in which order,” Keurentjes said in the run-up to the tournament.
The four drafts players of TeamNL have been among the top in the world for some time. Jan Groenendijk, Martijn van IJzendoorn, Jitse Slump and Wouter Sipma all have a chance of winning the world title. Only the Latvian Guntis Valneris managed to squeeze in among the Dutch as number 3 on the placement list.
“We may also have the ambition to become world champions,” said Keurentjes. “We are a large drafts country and the world rankings turn orange. As a result, we have been able to send an extra large delegation. In addition to the four for which I am responsible, there are more good Dutch drafts players in Curaçao, including Sven Winkel. There are nine in total Dutch men and four women, so we hope for as many podium places as possible.”
In addition to the qualities of the checkerboard, preparation is also of extra importance this year. While the now retired Boomstra won his three world titles in the Netherlands, the location of the upcoming tournament requires more time and effort.
“We already went to Curaçao on Friday because of the heat and the time difference. We followed all the advice from NOC*NSF about this. We did our preparation in Sicily and went into the heat here for exposure, so that we are used to the temperature. We are not allowed to hand out ice vests during the matches, but I assume there is air conditioning in the hall,” said Keurentjes.
Besides Valneris, the biggest competitors seem to come from Ukraine. This is partly due to the absence of the Russian and Belarusian drafts players, the national coach realized. “But if they are not there, you cannot play against them. We have no influence on that. All we can do is appear as strong as possible.”
At the World Cup, which runs from September 28 to October 13, the twenty participants will all play against each other once. The final ranking is based on the total number of points achieved after nineteen rounds.