A nightmare for Georginio Wijnaldum on Thursday night.
The Newcastle midfielder has just seen his hopes of being part of the 2016 Euros put in serious doubt.
A must win match against Iceland in Amsterdam couldn’t have gone more badly for Wijnaldum and his Dutch teammates.
With Tim Krul and Vurnon Anita watching from the sidelines, Wijnaldum went close with an early effort before things really fell apart for the Netherlands.
The 33rd minute saw central defender Martins Indi sent off after clashing with an opposition player, leaving Holland needing to play for an hour with 10 men AND win.
Five minutes after half-time another nail was hammered into the Dutch coffin, the man who replaced Daryl Janmaat in the team, Gregory van der Wiel, gave away a penalty which was converted by Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The Dutch gave it everything but with their last throw of the dice they made their final substitution and brought Georginio Wijnaldum off with 10 minutes to go, only seconds after seeing another decent right foot shot saved by the visiting keeper. Quincy Promes, one of the countless players linked with United in the summer, replacing the Newcastle midfielder,
The match ended 1-0 to Iceland and now there looks no chance of Wijnaldum or Newcastle’s other four Netherlands internationals automatically qualifying for France next summer.
The Czech Republic beat Kazakhstan 2-1 and now with three matches to go, Iceland have 18 points, followed by Czech Republic on 16, Holland with 10, whilst Turkey are now only a point behind on 9.
The top two automatically qualify along with the third placed team (in the nine groups) who performs the best – results elsewhere mean no chance of Holland claiming that place.
So now Wijnaldum and his teammates face a struggle to finish third which would give them a ticket to the lottery of the play-offs.
Turkey are home to Holland on Sunday and if the Dutch lose again, they may face having to beat the Czech Republic in the final qualifier, just to make those play-offs.
A bad start for new manager Danny Blind, who may shortly only have trying to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia on his mind.
By the time that tournament comes around, Tim Krul will be 30, Wijnaldum 27, Janmaat 28 and both de Jong and Vurnon Anita 28.
Dutch football fans are far from happy, after finishing third in last summer’s Brazil World Cup, they could never have foreseen such a struggle ahead.
(Thanks to those who pointed out that there are play-offs for those in third place.)