Rod Lyall 15/02/20
The draw for the KNCB’s new-look Twenty20 Cup has thrown up some extremely interesting group-phase encounters for when the competition gets under way in July.
Based on a seeded national ballot rather than the regional groups which have been used throughout the Cup’s 13-year history, the pools will bring new instances of some old rivalries, not the least of which is the Schiedam derby between Excelsior ’20 and Hermes-DVS with which Group A will open on 11 July.
The abandonment of the regional principle has necessitated a move from Friday-evening pool matches to a Saturday-afternoon programme, played between 11 July and 15 August, with the quarter-finals on 22 August and the traditional finals day, involving two semi-finals and the final, on the following Saturday, the day before the final round of Topklasse matches.
The seedings were based on the results of last year’s finals day, when VOC Rotterdam beat holders HBS Craeyenhout in the final, and on the 2019 standings in the Topklasse, Hoofdklasse and Eerste Klasse.
The outcome of the draw was:
Group A: Excelsior ’20, VRA Amsterdam, Quick Haag, Hermes-DVS, Ghausia Feyenoord.
Group B: VOC, Voorburg, Punjab Rotterdam, Rood en Wit Haarlem, Bloemendaal.
Group C: ACC, Dosti Amsterdam, Kampong Utrecht, Salland Deventer, Groen en Wit Amsterdam.
Group D: HBS Craeyenhout, HCC, Sparta 1888, VVV Amsterdam, Qui Vive Amsterdam.
In addition to the Schiedam derby, therefore, local fans can look forward to the Group B meeting between Rood en Wit and Bloemendaal (arguably the oldest surviving local derby in the Netherlands) on 18 July, the visit of holders VOC to promoted Topklassers Punjab in the same group on the same day, and the Amsterdam clash between ACC and Dosti in Group C on 1 August.
Group D not only features a meeting between HBS and HCC on 1 August, but also an encounter on 18 July between former Amsterdam neighbours VVV and Qui Vive, the latter newcomers to the competition by virtue of being the highest-placed first team in the Eerste Klasse last year.
While one aim of the restructuring was to ensure more even groups than have sometimes applied in the past, the mathematics inevitably meant that two pools would feature three Topklasse sides, with only two going through to the quarter-finals.
Those facing the tougher challenge are VOC, Voorburg and Punjab in Group B, and HBS, HCC and Sparta in Group D.
Victories by lower-division sides over their Topklasse rivals have tended to come few and far between in the T20 Cup, and have often been the result of top-flight clubs fielding weakened teams; if the new format succeeds in producing stronger sides, then, we may be in for even fewer upsets, although they are the essence of such a cup competition.