Netherlands manager Andries Jonker says his team have come to the Women’s World Cup “with the conviction that we can beat everybody” after securing a quarter-final spot against Spain.
The Netherlands were forced to endure several anxious moments before defeating South Africa and booking a place in the last eight.
They will have to face Spain without experienced midfielder Danielle van de Donk, who picked up a second yellow card of the tournament and is suspended.
“We have this conviction, it’s not the last game for Danielle. It’s very disappointing she got a yellow card but we can’t change it,” said Jonker.
“Danielle has very specific qualities that we really need and we will miss those qualities.
“But we’ve got a lot of other good midfielders and that’s what we’ll need to work out over the next few days.”
Jill Roord, Manchester City’s new club record signing, nodded the Netherlands ahead but South Africa went close to equalising several times against the 2019 runners-up.
Banyana Banyana captain Thembi Kgatlana was once again a real handful and forced four fine saves from Daphne van Domselaar, Aston Villa’s new goalkeeper, in front of a crowd of 40,233 at Sydney Football Stadium.
Lineth Beerensteyn doubled the lead after a mistake by South Africa keeper Kaylin Swart in the second half.
The Netherlands will return to New Zealand to face Spain in Wellington on Friday at 02:00 BST for a place in the semi-finals.
Another lightning start
The Netherlands are two wins from reaching back-to-back finals after another lightning start to a game at this tournament.
Roord’s early header, after Lieke Martens had been denied by a clearance off the line, was the sixth time they have scored inside 20 minutes.
Their second goal was a gift, Swart allowing a seemingly routine shot by the recalled Beerensteyn to slip through her grasp and into the net.
It was a horrible moment for the keeper but it secured the Netherlands their third win of the tournament after an outstanding goalkeeping display by Van Domselaar.
“Daphne saved us a few times and I was happy to lead 1-0 at half-time,” added Jonker.
“But the part of me that wants great football is disgruntled with the first half, where we gave the ball away too much.”
The Netherlands have had a near-perfect World Cup so far and were only denied victory over four-time world champions the United States by Lindsey Horan’s equaliser.
Jonker, the former assistant to Louis van Gaal at Bayern Munich and Barcelona, has been tasked with going one step further than previous World Cup, when Sarina Wiegman’s side were defeated 2-0 by the USA in France.
The Netherlands head into the quarter-finals in fine form and with Spain in their sights.
South Africa had five shots on target in the first half.