Netherlands’ Noppert on Messi in World Cup: `He’s a human’

Dec 6, 2022, 6:43 PM | Updated: Dec 7, 2022, 8:47 am
goalkeeper Andries Noppert of the Netherlands celebrates at the end of the World Cup round of 16 so...

goalkeeper Andries Noppert of the Netherlands celebrates at the end of the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

              Goalkeeper Andries Noppert of the Netherlands, top left, defends a ball against Ecuador's Angelo Preciado during the World Cup group A soccer match between Netherlands and Ecuador, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
            
              Goalkeeper Andries Noppert of the Netherlands catches the ball during the World Cup group A soccer match between the Netherlands and Ecuador at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
            
              Goalkeeper Andries Noppert of the Netherlands saves a shoot during the World Cup group A soccer match between the Netherlands and Ecuador, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
            
              goalkeeper Andries Noppert of the Netherlands saves the ball during the World Cup, group A soccer match between Senegal and Netherlands at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
            
              goalkeeper Andries Noppert of the Netherlands saves a shot at goal from Christian Pulisic of the United States during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
            
              goalkeeper Andries Noppert of the Netherlands celebrates at the end of the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Andries Noppert is ready to face Lionel Messi if the Argentina star takes a penalty kick in Friday’s World Cup quarterfinal match.

“He’s the same like us. He’s a human,” the Netherlands goalkeeper said Wednesday.

Messi has scored 21 goals in 26 penalty kick attempts for Argentina among his 94 international goals. He converted his spot kick to put Argentina ahead in the opening 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia, then had his penalty saved by Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny as Argentina won 2-0 to reach the round of 16.

The 6-foot-8 Noppert was released from second-division Dutch club Dordrecht at the end of the 2019-20 season, joined the top league’s Go Ahead Eagles in January 2021 and moved to Heerenveen this season.

“It’s about the moment,” Noppert said. “He can also miss, and we see it in the beginning of this tournament.”

The 28-year-old Noppert was in goal in the opening 2-0 win over Senegal, the second Dutch player to make his international debut at a World Cup and the first since midfielder Dick Schoenaker in 1978.

Noppert has allowed two goals in four matches and saved 15 of 17 shots on target, an 88.2% save percentage that is second-best in the tournament behind Tunisia keeper Aimen Dahmen, who saved nine of 10.

“He has an open personality. He is quite direct and outspoken,” Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said through a translator after the opener. “His quality is he can stop balls and he had to do that three times today, and he did it perfectly.”

If the Netherlands gets past Argentina, the team would face Croatia or Brazil in the semifinals on Tuesday. The next day’s semifinal match has the Morocco-Portugal winner playing either England or defending champion France.

Virgil van Dijk, a 31-year-old defender who was a member of the FIFPro world all-star team in 2020 and ’21, said the Dutch have to prepare to play not just Messi.

“I’m very cautious, obviously, of what Argentina can bring, because they are a fantastic team. They are fantastic players,” Van Dijk said. “So we have to be very good, very good in all departments. We have to prepare well and get ready for that.”

The Netherlands is the best soccer nation never to win a World Cup, losing in the final in 1974, 1978 and 2010. The Dutch were eliminated by Argentina on penalty kicks in the 2014 semifinals, when Messi converted his nation’s first attempt of the shootout.

“There is hunger. There is dreams. There’s feeling that goes with when you participate in the World Cup,” Van Dijk said. “You could be three games away from glory.”

___

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Tottenham's Harry Kane greets supporters after the English Premier League soccer match between Fulh...
Associated Press

Harry Kane has records in sight, but trophies elude him

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Harry Kane will become Tottenham’s all-time leading scorer with a goal against Manchester City on Sunday. The striker’s wait for a major trophy, however, will go on. Kane is set to surpass the late Jimmy Greaves’ club record of 266 goals, which has stood for 53 years. He is also tied […]
1 day ago
FILE- Gene Sykes claps after City Council voted 12-0 to endorse documents at the heart of its plan ...
Associated Press

USOPC: Russian pathway possible, but sanctions must remain

The new leader of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee reiterated the federation’s support for exploring a way for Russian athletes to compete at the Paris Olympics as neutrals, while insisting the current sanctions against the country remain in place. Gene Sykes, who took over for Susanne Lyons as USOPC chair on Jan. 1, wrote […]
1 day ago
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (26) celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL...
Associated Press

All-Star festivities showcase next generation of NHL stars

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — New Jersey Devils players watch from the bench often and marvel at some of the things Jack Hughes can do on the ice. “Every game, at least a couple times, I’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, that guy’s amazing,'” forward Michael McLeod said. “He just gets it done every night.” […]
1 day ago
Youth team players warm-up ahead of the Black star water polo competition held at the University of...
Associated Press

Ghana water polo grows as sport looks for more diversity

Back at the very beginning, right when the idea of water polo in Ghana started swimming into reality, Asante Prince got out a couple of balls and caps in front of a handful of curious kids. He decided to try a scrimmage, but he had no nets. So they put a soccer bench on each […]
1 day ago
FILE - Austria's Katharina Liensberger speeds down the course during the first run of an alpine ski...
Associated Press

Austrian ski team aims to rediscover its magic at worlds

VIENNA (AP) — Only one skier in the 24-member Austrian squad for the upcoming world championships has won on the Word Cup circuit this season. A star coach left the women’s team mid-January. And “crisis” has become a common word on the ski-mad nation’s sport pages. Has the once dominating “Wunderteam” from Austria lost its […]
1 day ago
FILE - Workers prepare to remove giant Olympic rings from the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park...
Associated Press

Tokyo Olympic bribery scandal rolls on; company apologizes

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese company embroiled in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic corruption scandal said Thursday it would strengthen oversight to prevent further wrongdoing. Kadokawa “seriously betrayed public trust,” company president Takeshi Natsuno said. He bowed deeply with two other executives to show remorse in a news conference. Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, the son of the founder, […]
1 day ago
Netherlands’ Noppert on Messi in World Cup: `He’s a human’