Category Archives: KNVB

The last great Dutch side

It’s no secret that these days, money has a huge influence in football, with the strongest clubs in the world mainly being the richest too. The financial situation has also created a huge gap between European leagues, with top sides from less wealthy league’s struggling to compete with those from England, Spain and Germany in particular writes Fin Crebolder.

In the Dutch Eredivisie, clubs have never been big spenders, but have instead created great sides mainly through either developing players in their own youth system, or buying players from abroad at a young age. In both cases, the players would usually reach their peak at the club, allowing the team to compete with the best, before moving on to a major European league. However, since the billionaire owners and the huge TV licensing deals have come into play, this has rarely happened, as the Eredivisie top talents are signed by the rich European clubs before they reach their peak. Gone are the days of great Dutch European sides such as the Ajax team of 1998, with mid-table clubs in major leagues such as Southampton and Newcastle now being more appealing to exciting young talents than the traditional giants of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord. As these Dutch clubs all suffer the same fate, teams can be built that look excellent domestically, but simply are not good enough to compete with the bigger and richer teams in Europe. However, this was of course not always the case. There was a time, not so long ago, where a Dutch team went toe to toe with the best in Europe. And what a team it was.

It was 2004, and PSV Eindhoven were not in the best state. They had just lost out on the Eredivisie title to rivals Ajax, and Chelsea, recently bought out by a rather wealthy Russian man, had signed two of their key players, Arjen Robben and Mateja Kezman. To make matters worse, the chairman Rob Westerhof and the board had constantly clashed with manager Guus Hiddink regarding financial matters. Whilst off the pitch the situation may not have been good, as soon as the season started it became apparent that these problems had not affected the on pitch performance of the club, with them still possessing one of the strongest squads in Europe, not just the league.


In goal was the new signing Heurelho Gomes, who after initial struggles and question marks, became a fan favourite, often bailing the team out with his reflexes and acrobatic, if somewhat erratic style. However, he was not called upon all that often due to the defence in front of him. Starting at right back was club legend Andre Ooijer, who had been at the club since 1997. Whilst he was not a marauding and exciting full back, he more than made up for it with his defensive solidity. Wilfred Bouma led the defence from the centre, being partnered by the 21 year old Brazilian Alex, who was on loan from Chelsea, and would remain so for three years. Completing the defence was the more adventurous and attacking of the two full backs, Lee Young-pyo, who Hiddink brought to PSV after the two worked together at the 2002 World Cup. His incredible speed and stamina allowed him to constantly run up and down the left side, becoming a key player for PSV in both defence and attack.

Whilst the defence was very impressive, it was the midfield of PSV that truly made them one of the European elite. In the holding role of the three was Johann Vogel, whose work often went unnoticed. With an excellent tackle and intelligent positioning, Vogel would sit in front of and protect the defence, allowing his two midfield partners to make an impact further forward, and they did just that. Phillip Cocu had just been brought back to PSV after an extremely successful six year spell at Barcelona, and became a key player, playing as the most attacking of the three midfielders, often getting forward and posing a goalscoring threat, shown by the ten goals he scored, but also tracking back and putting in excellent defensive work in tougher games. What Cocu lacked in technical ability he more than made up for with his work rate and off the ball movement. The third and arguably most important cog in the PSV midfield was club captain Mark Van Bommel, who was simply the complete midfielder. Often starting in a deeper position, Van Bommel would relentlessly press the opposition and more often than not win the ball. However, contrary to popular believe, there was far more to his game than just brute force, as he was often the creative hub of the team with his excellent range of passing and set piece abilities. This midfield three was wonderfully balanced, with all three players possessing excellent technical, mental and physical abilities between them, making them an efficient and at times unbreakable machine.

As said, the midfield was the key to this team, providing stability and balance, but that’s not to say the attack wasn’t equally as impressive. Usually on the right was Park Ji-Sung, arguably the side’s player of the season behind Van Bommel. He had struggled for first team opportunities after joining with Lee following the 2002 World Cup, but after the departure of Arjen Robben, he was given a chance in the starting lineup, and took it. He may not has possessed the unbelievable attacking abilities of Robben, but more than made up for it with his work rate in both pressing the opposition in their own half and man marking players into his own. This is not to say he lacked attacking ability. At the time Park was extremely quick and possessed impressive passing and crossing ability, shown by the ten goals and six assists he got. On the opposite side of the attack, Farfan and Beasley, the two players brought in to replace Arjen Robben, competed for the starting spot, with Farfan usually taking it. As they were brought in to replace Robben, both of these players were far more attacking and direct than Park, often running directly at the opposition defence with their pace and dribbling, making them key to PSV counter attacks, whilst off the ball they would make runs behind the defences. Leading the line for PSV was Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. After signing in 2001, Vennegoor of Hesselink struggled, and before the start of the 2004/05 season looked set to leave. However, after Kezman left for Chelsea, he too was given a chance in the first team and became an important player, with his physicality key to the side. He often held the ball up before laying it off to one of the onrushing Cocu, Park or Farfan, and was also a threat inside the box both in the air and on the ground, finishing the season as the side’s top scorer with 19 goals.


This side was very different to the traditional great Dutch sides. Rather than focusing on possession and freedom of movement, Hiddink set up this team to be fast, direct and efficient. They were defensively sound, not only due to the individual quality of the defenders, but the structure of the midfield in front of it.

Off the ball, Vogel and Van Bommel would form a double pivot in front of the defence with Cocu pushing slightly further forward to press the opposition, forming a stable 4-2-3-1 formation, with Park tracking back on the right to protect the solid but aging Andre Oojier, who would then tuck in and sit narrower and deeper to his fellow full back. The protection provided by the midfield meant that the central defenders would rarely have to press the opposition midfield, allowing them to sit deeper and mark the attackers, making it extremely difficult for the opposition to find space near the PSV box.


On the ball the team was still a largely structured unit, but were certainly more fluid than off the ball. Van Bommel would push higher up, leaving Vogel as the lone holding midfielder and changing the formation to a more attacking 4-3-3, where Cocu would push even further forward most of the time, although he sometimes swapped roles with Van Bommel. On the left side of the pitch, Farfan would often drift into the position of left striker, leaving space for Lee to bombard forward and provide a cross for one of Vennegoor of Hesselink, Farfan, Park or Cocu to get on the end of, with Van Bommel lurking outside the area ready to recover the ball or release a long shot. On the right was Park, who was given the most free role in the team, often drifting central behind the striker, and this, coupled with Farfan’s movement created a diamond shape in the team. This was also beneficial defensively at times, as it allowed Park to mark and harass the opposition defensive midfielder (I’m sure you’ve all heard those Pirlo quotes).

The team’s main philosophy was quick transitions, aiming to get the ball from one of the pitch to the other as quickly as possible. This does not mean that they were a long ball side who simply punted it forward to Vennegoor of Hesselink, but instead moved up the pitch quickly through either the individual pace of Park, Lee or Farfan, or through the excellent passing ability of the midfield, and Van Bommel in particular. The creative ability of the midfield along with the pace and movement of the wingers made this strategy extremely successful, with Vennegoor of Hesselink also key to it, holding up the ball with his back to goal before setting up one of the onrushing players.


In their first three matches of the league season, they managed to score 15 goals, and this was reflective of their domestic season, as they stormed to the league title, finishing ten points ahead of Ajax, who they beat 4-0 in the ArenA in one of their many scintillating displays. They finished the season with 87 points, 89 goals and just one defeat, a quite incredible record. They managed to complete the domestic double when they won the KNVB Beker, breezing past Willem II 4-0 in the final, after defeating Feyenoord on penalties in the semi-final. Whilst their domestic achievements were undeniably impressive, there have been many great Eredivisie title winning sides over the years. These teams achievement among the European elite is what set them apart from other Dutch sides of recent times.

After breezing through the play off, PSV were drawn in a group with Rosenborg, Panathinaikos and Arsenal. In the group stages, their first game was their toughest, as they faced arsenal at the Emirates. Despite a strong defensive performance, they lost 1-0 due to an Alex own goal just before half time. They followed this with a 1-0 win over Panathinaikos, a 2-1 win away at Rosenborg and a 1-0 win over them in the return leg. They entered the home game against Arsenal two points clear at the top of the group, and managed a creditable 1-1 draw to maintain this advantage going into the final game. However, they played their worst performance of the season in the final group game, losing 4-1 to Panathinaikos, and finishing 2nd.

In the first knockout round they were drawn against Monaco, who had topped their group above Liverpool. Like in the group stages, PSV were excellent defensively, scoring early on through a Alex set piece in the first leg before holding a 1-0 lead to take to Monaco, where they put in an excellent performance, scoring a goal in each half through attackers Vennegoor of Hesselink and Beasley to win 3-0 on aggregate against a largely fancied side.

In the quarter-finals they were drawn against an even stronger French side, Lyon, the team who had won three consecutive league titles and were storming the French league yet again, and also finished above Manchester United in their Champions League group. Lyon’s class was clear straight away, as they came racing out of the blocks and were 1-0 up after twelve minutes. They continued to dominate PSV and Heurelho Gomes was inspired in the PSV goal, single handedly keeping it at 1-0 going into halftime. However, in the second half PSV looked like a different side, starting to take control of the game and equalising through Cocu in the 80th minute, giving them a crucial away goal to take back home. In the second leg, it was clear that both sides were nervous, as both failed to play to the best of their ability. However, like in the first leg, Lyon managed to score early again, this time after a mistake from Bouma, and things were looking bleak for PSV, as the rest of the half was poor. After half time, PSV got that all important goal through a superb Alex volley, but it did not provide the spark to their performance, and the scrappy game continued through the rainy night, until penalties loomed. The Dutch side held their nerve, with Gomes the hero again, saving two penalties, and sending PSV to the last four of the Champions League. Their opponents? AC Milan.

This was an AC Milan team of incredible quality, boasting the likes of Cafu, Maldini, Pirlo, Kaka, Seedorf and Shevchenko in their illustrious squad. They topped Barcelona in the group stages, and beat Manchester United and fierce rivals Inter Milan in the knockout stages, and were unsurprisingly heavy favourites against this PSV side. The following matches would define this PSV team, and ensure they went down in history as one of the great Dutch sides.

The first leg was played at the San Siro, and Hiddink set the side up in a diamond formation in an attempt to match AC Milan man for man, whilst also giving Park a more central role to both mark Pirlo off the ball and drive at the heart of the AC Milan defence of it. Vennegoor of Hesselink was left on the bench as Hiddink went for pace in attack, hoping to counter attack Milan with Beasley and Farfan. For the first fifteen minutes of the match, PSV were under siege from AC Milan, barely surviving the constant attacks thrown at them. However, the defence (just about) held on and by the twenty minute mark the Dutch side began to gain a foothold on the game, largely due to the performances of midfield duo Van Bommel and Cocu. Park’s direct running was also causing AC Milan all sorts of problems, with Farfan missing a golden chances after springing the offside trap. This warning woke Milan up who began to press forward again, forcing Gomez into two excellent stops from Kaka. However, just before half time, Shevchenko got the goal to send Milan into half-time with a deserved 1-0 lead. I don’t know what Hiddink said during the break to his players, but it must have been some speech, because a different side came out in the second half. PSV dominated and created chance after chance, with Park, Lee and Farfan all guilty of failing to finish. Vennegoor of Hesselink was brought on with half an hour left, allowing PSV to go more “route one”, with Van Bommel being the next to miss a chance, narrowly hitting over the bar from close range. Ultimately though, the effort had worn the PSV players out, and AC Milan finished the game strongly, pushing forward and getting a crucial (and very avoidable on PSV’s part) second goal from Tomasson. A lapse in concentration had left them with it all to do.

Going into the second leg, PSV had to score at least two unanswered goals against a side who had only conceded two goals all season in the Champions League. Ooijer was suspended whilst Beasley was injured, meaning Theo Lucius and Vennegoor of Hesselink were given the nod, with the team playing their usual 4-3-3 formation. They startled AC Milan with their high paced start, constantly pressing to win the ball and running directly forward with it. This intense start paid off when Park put PSV ahead after just nine minutes when he drifted inside from the right and finished off an excellent move. This put a real spring in the Dutch side’s step, with them maintaining their high intensity for the rest of the half, although they couldn’t find that second goal. The second half was more of the same, with the home crowd louder than ever before, and they would only get louder after Cocu equalised with a header following excellent wing play by the marauding Lee. Farfan, who had arguably been the star of the show, continued to tear apart the Milan defence and force multiple saves from Dida. With ten minutes left, PSV were pressing for the winner whilst Milan, who had no shots on target, seemed content to survive to extra time. However, in the 90th minute, PSV hearts were broken, when captain Van Bommel lost Ambrosini, the man he was marking, who headed home an excellent Kaka cross. Although Cocu managed to score a simply stunning volley only a minute later to make it 3-1, it was too late, and PSV were cruelly knocked out on away goals against a team they had well and truly outplayed and outclassed over two legs. In true Dutch fashion, they had a team capable of winning it, but fell at the (semi) final hurdle, Football, ay? It’s a cruel mistress.


Unsurprisingly, the financial superpowers in football took notice of the excellent talent at PSV and sadly the best Dutch club side since 1998 was largely ripped apart. In defence, both Bouma and Lee couldn’t resist the temptation of the English top flight, moving to Aston Villa and Tottenham respectively. However, the real losses came in midfield where Vogel went to AC Milan, Park joined Manchester United in a big money move, and Van Bommel left on a free transfer to Barcelona. They all left Eindhoven as club icons, beloved by the fans, and Park, Van Bommel and Bouma would all return to the club in the swansong of their careers, receiving a heroes welcome. PSV still managed to win the Eredivisie the following season, but didn’t have the quality to replicate their incredible Champions League run, falling to Lyon in the first knockout round.

As I said at the start of this article, these days it is very rare for a Eredivisie side to be able to hold on to key players and build a side capable of competing on the European front like they used to. However, this wonderfully talented side showed just what can happen when it does happen, when everything just clicks, and we can only hope that, in this game dominated by money, another Eredivisie side manages to build and maintain a team even half as good. With billionaire owners and TV licensing deals hurtling more and more money into the major leagues, it may take a while for this to happen, but I assure you, if it’s anything like this PSV side, it’ll be worth the wait.



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The Ideological Problems in Dutch Football

So, just over a year after finishing third at the World Cup in Brazil, the Dutch national side have failed to even make the play offs for Euro 2016, finishing ahead of only Latvia and Kazakhstan in their group.

The team have been a shambles ever since Guus Hiddink took over from Louis Van Gaal after the World Cup in the summer of 2014, and changed from Van Gaal’s 5-3-2 to a “traditional Dutch” 4-3-3.

Things arguably got even worse when he was replaced by Danny Blind, who managed to take the side out of the play off places, giving them no chance whatsoever of qualification. Despite the constant mistakes throughout the qualification campaign, both managers as well as the KNVB insisted that the Dutch have to play attractive, attacking football, and this has led to the national team’s demise writes Fin Crebolder.

The Netherlands’ two best World Cup performances since the ‘Totaal Voetbal’ side of the 70’s have come in 2010 and 2014. The Oranje finished second and third respectively at these World Cups, and it’s no coincidence that the two most successful teams the nation has seen in a very long time both did achieved this by taking a more pragmatic approach in terms of style. It’s no secret that at both of these tournaments, the Oranje squad was not particularly strong, and both Bert van Marwijk and Van Gaal acknowledged and addressed this.

In 2010, Van Marwijk set his team up in a structured 4-2-3-1, with Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel sitting in front of and protecting a relatively weak backline, never venturing forward and allowing Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben to work their magic going forward.

This was very effective, but not hugely popular in The Netherlands, with many complaining about the aggressive style of Van Bommel and De Jong, who committed many fouls, particularly in the final against Spain.

Due to the unpopularity of the style, the KNVB requested that Van Marwijk played more attractive football, and in an attempt to do so, the World Cup runners up crashed out in the group stages of Euro 2012, although other factors also caused this.

In 2014, promising midfielder Kevin Strootman was ruled out of the World Cup finals through injury and Van Gaal, seeing that his absence left the midfield too unbalanced and the defence too unprotected, changed from a 4-3-3 to a counter-attacking 5-3-2 for the World Cup, adding an extra centre back to the defence and putting Arjen Robben up front with Van Persie.

This proved highly successful, with the formation producing a stunning 5-1 victory over Spain in the opening game. Although the team were never quite as scintillating again, they managed to finish 3rd due to Arjen Robben’s quite incredible form and some more excellent tactical decisions by Van Gaal. However, the KNVB clearly weren’t satisfied by this style of play, and chose Guus Hiddink over the excellent Ronald Koeman to replace Van Gaal as the former vowed to make the team play the “Dutch school” style of football again. The rest is history.

Whilst these pragmatic approaches did have their drawbacks, such as the current generation gap being created partly due to Van Marwijk’s approach that failed to introduce youngsters into the national team, the fact is that they created two of the most successful Dutch teams ever. However, the KNVB have managed to neglect this completely and continue to insist on the national team playing a traditional and Dutch attacking 4-3-3.

This insistence stems from fond memories of the Dutch side of the 70’s, with Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff revolutionising Dutch football and creating a legacy and style that both clubs in Holland and the national team strive to follow. It’s all well and good sticking to your nation’s traditional philosophy by trying to play beautiful football, but the current squad are not good enough to do this and still get results. In their (rather depressing) attempts to play Totaal Voetbal, they have instead achieved totaal failure.

There is an age old question in football; What is better, a beautiful loss or an ugly victory? The Dutch have traditionally preferred the latter, and whilst I agree with this, with the current squad the Dutch have two options: An ugly loss or an ugly win? That’s a no brainer right? Bruno Martins-Indi is not the next Ronald Koeman, Gini Wijnaldum is not the next Clarence Seedorf and Bas Dost is, and I can’t emphasise this enough, most definitely NOT the next Marco Van Basten. Yes, this is a shame, but the nation needs to accept it and accept that compromises must be made to find a way to be successful with this squad. As a matter of fact, Louis Van Gaal has already found a way to be successful with it, and the KNVB rejected the man who could continue and build on this success, in Ronald Koeman.

The Dutch need to stop living in the past and allow the 1970’s to be a beautiful memory for the time being. Ajax have retired the iconic number 14 of Johan Cruyff rather than run the risk of Yaya Sanogo playing in it.

Most filmmakers do not write a sequel to a truly great movie, instead leaving it be for the world to re-watch and enjoy. Artists don’t attempt to re-paint the Mona Lisa and risk tainting a great and iconic image, but instead simply admire it’s beauty.

I love Totaal Voetbal as much as the next Dutch fan, and I have no doubt that it’ll one day return in all it’s glory, but until then, we must compromise, make do with what is available to us, and wait for that fateful day.


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Euro 2016 Qualifier Preview – Turkey vs. Netherlands

The Netherlands are back in Euro 2016 qualifying action on Sunday at 17:00BST when they go head to head with Fatih Terim’s Turkey. A game, which is crucial for both sides in Group A as the two sides are desperate for three points to help keep their European qualifying dream alive. Here’s Sam May with a full pre-match preview…

Both teams currently sit out of the automatic qualification places in Group A, but a win for either side on Sunday would help boost their chances of qualification. The Netherlands currently sit six points behind the Czech Republic and eight points behind group leaders Iceland. Whilst Turkey are seven points behind the Czech’s and nine points behind the Icelanders.

Danny Blind takes charge of his second game for the Dutch hoping it will be a night to remember in Turkey. It was a losing start for manager Blind as he watched his side fall short to Iceland at the Amsterdam ArenA through Swansea City midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson’s spot-kick just after the half-time break. The victory for Iceland was also helped by the sending off of Bruno Martins Indi for his unnecessary reaction to a scuffle with former Ajax striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, a reaction that Oranje captain Arjen Robben slammed as “very stupid”.

As a result, the Oranje can still qualify and gain one of the two automatic qualification spots, they will however be hoping that either Iceland or the Czech Republic slip up, which would enable them to do so. The defeat to the Czech Republic in their opening match was the one that left the Netherlands trailing, but wins over Latvia and Kazakhstan have helped to keep them in contention. Blind’s side will be hoping to secure all three points in Turkey or his team will be left hanging by a thread and could face an early exit from Group A. The Netherlands still haven’t recorded back-to-back wins in the competition. A win on Sunday though and there is still hope bearing in mind that one of the teams above them must slip up.

The Dutch also play the Czech Republic in their final match and the Oranje have not failed to qualify for the European Championships since 1984 – an early exit from the competition would definitely send shock waves around Holland. They have however won the tournament in 1988 and have reached the semi-finals three times since then.


Bruno Martins Indi is suspended for the crucial clash due to his unprofessional foul on Tuesday night, which helped Iceland claim the three points. PSV central defender Jeffrey Bruma is expected to fill the void left by Martins Indi, however Blind could also turn to Feyenoord’s 21 year-old versatile defender Terence Kongolo or Southampton’s new signing from Celtic, Virgil van Dijk. Captain Arjen Robben has also been sent back to Munich due to the groin injury he picked up in the 1-0 defeat to Iceland with Sunderland winger Jeremain Lens been added to the squad as a replacement. Look to PSV Luciano Narsingh to start in FC Bayern Munich man’s place.

Turkey’s Arda Turn was suspended due to picking up too many bookings for the previous clash against the Netherlands but is expected to lead the line for Turkey on Sunday night.


Netherlands 4-3-3: Cillessen;Van der Wiel, De Vrij, Bruma, Blind; Klaassen, Wijnaldum, Sneijder; Depay, Narsingh, Huntelaar.

Recent Form: WLWDWL

Turkey 4-3-3: Babacan; Balta, Aziz, Calhanoglu, Inan; Turan, Tore, Tufan; Sen, Bulut, Yilmaz.

Recent Form: LDWDWD


Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)


Turkey 1-2 Netherlands


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Dutch Euro hopes suffer Blind panic


Danny Blind’s new look Netherlands faced Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson’s Iceland in tonight’s European Championship qualifying encounter at the Amsterdam ArenA. It was a game that saw new coach Blind take to the Holland hot seat for the first time, since the resignation of Guus Hiddink.

Both teams were looking forward to the evening’s encounter but Arjen Robben was feeling the heat the most stating that his side were in a “delicate situation” going into the match. Iceland went into the match knowing a win tonight and win against Kazakhstan on Sunday would clinch them qualification for the first time ever. As for the Netherlands they knew a defeat tonight would make it very difficult for them to secure qualification.

The Dutch roar echoed across the city of Amsterdam as the teams took to the field although, there was however tension in the air knowing that it would be worrying times for the Dutch if they failed to win tonight.

The game kicked off and it was the visitors who started the match brightly though on five minutes, an open goal miss by Bodvarsson from five yards out was the best chance for Iceland. A delightful cross by Gudmundsson. It would have been a well-deserved lead for the visitors but ended with a head in the hands instead moment for the 3,000 travelling supporters.

After eight minutes it was the Netherlands’ time to turn the screw with a fine shot from Robben on the right from 25 yards, that was equally matched by the on-rushing NEC Nijmegen stopper Halldorsson in goal for Iceland.

On 11 minutes, a foul by Stefan De Vrij invited a decent delivery from by Gylfi Sigurdson, which was comfortably caught by Jasper Cillessen in the Dutch goal. Shortly after a cross from Wesley Sneijder found Robben who could only see his tame header deflected out for a Netherlands corner.

Robben found Sneijder after quarter of an hour, whose shot from 20 yards deflected out for a corner to the hosts. It was a decent spell by the Netherlands and a nice piece of trickery from Manchester United’s Memphis Depay helped to find Robben who was deliberately fouled by Arnason. The freekick was taken but Robben could only see his speculative effort deflect of Davy Klaassen and go out for a goal kick to the away team.

There were worrying signs for the Netherlands on 25 minutes when Robben was stood holding his groin and had to be replaced by PSV winger Luciano Narsingh. The Bayern Munich winger had only just returned after four weeks out on the sidelines. Not something manager Blind would have hoped for.

On 27 minutes, a great delivery from the right by Depay picked out Hunterlaar, whose effort looked to have scraped the far hand post. It looked like it could be a long evening for the Netherlands.

Bruno Martins Indi

It did not get any better shortly after, Bruno Martins Indi was handed a straight red card after a foul on Kolbeinn Sigthorsson but replays show that Martins Indi had acted unprofessionally.  Three minutes later, lone striker Klass-Jan Huntelaar was replaced by PSV defender Jeffrey Bruma, a move that did not go down well with the home fans. With half time approaching, there was one last chance for Wesley Sneijder who could only see his 30-yard pile driver, fall into the arms of Halldorsson.

The second half began and on 49 minutes Iceland were awarded a penalty after a rash tackle by Gregory Van Der Wiel on Bjarnason, which was well worthy of a yellow card. The penalty was dispatched confidently by Sigurdsson, only for Cillessen to get a hand on it. A head in the hands moment from Robben as he watched on from the bench. The emotions were showing with Cillessen clearly frustrated with himself for not keeping it out. The Netherlands 37 game-winning streak at home was coming to an end.

The visitors nearly added a second on 53 minutes when Johann Berg Gudmundsson fired a powerful shot onto the post, no chance for Cillessen. Ten minutes later, Narsingh found Sneijder, and his 20-yard low shot found the gloves of Halldorson. Newcastle United’s new signing Georginio Wijnaldum had a similar effort shortly after, which was equally matched by the Iceland shot stopper. It was turning into a real frustrating evening for the Netherlands.

On 68 minutes, Davy Klaassen, found Narsingh only for him blaze wide from ten yards wide right.  Mid-way through the second-half, Bjarnason picked out veteran, Eidur Gudjohnson who also found Gudmundsson only to fire over from six yards out, a glorious chance wasted for the visitors to take a two-goal lead.

With only ten minutes remaining on the clock, Blind’s men were hoping to grab at least a point; Narsingh found Wijnaldum on the right who shot from eighteen yards was a conformable save and with news coming in that the Czech Republic were beating Kazakhstan in one of the other fixtures in the group, it was looking that little bit more desperate for the Netherlands.

There was one last chance for a Netherlands equaliser as Klaassen fired a cross into the Iceland box, but the cross was well defender by Skulason as Depay was ready to pounce.

The full time whistle was blown, and boos bellowed around the Amsterdam ArenA.

For the first time, 24 countries will contest the European Championship. As the host nation, France claim an automatic spot with the other 23 entrants determined by the ongoing qualifiers. The nine group winners along with nine group runners-up and the best third-placed side go directly through to the finals with the eight remaining third-placed teams will face off in two legged play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers. This looks to be the Dutch’s most realistic way of gaining qualification, however, Turkey stand in their way as they are desperate themselves to clinch the third spot, and Blind must take his men to Konya on Sunday evening to face them, in what now seems a vital game for the Oranje.


Netherlands: Cillessen; Van der Wiel, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind; Sneijder, Wijnaldum (Promes 80), Klaassen; Depay, Robben (Narsingh 31), Huntelaar (Bruma 40).

BOOKINGS: Van der Wiel 50, Sneijder 90+3.

SENT OFF: Martins Indi 33.

Iceland: Halldórsson; Saevarsson, Sigurdsson, Árnason, Skúlason; Bjarnason, Sigurdsson, Bödvarsson (Finnbogason 78), Gunnarsson (Skulason 87); Gudmundsson, Sigthorsson (Gudjohnsen 64).

GOALS: Sigurdsson 51P.

BOOKINGS: Sigthorsson 33, Arnason 58, Saevarsson 80.


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Euro 2016 Qualifier Preview – Netherlands vs. Iceland

The Netherlands are back in European 2016 Qualifying action and will be hoping to get back to winning ways on Thursday night when they take on Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson’s Group A leaders Iceland at the Amsterdam ArenA.

The 19:45 (BST) kick off will see new Dutch manager Danny Blind take to the touchline – he served as assistant to Guus Hindink who resigned on August 1st paving way for Blind to make the step up to manager.

The former international defender has had enough preparation time to prepare his squad and make the necessary changes needed to help his side succeed and progress. One of the main changes Blind has put in place was to hand the captaincy to Arjen Robben replacing vice-captain Robin Van Persie.

Blind has been impressed with Van Persie’s response to his decision stating: “I think Robben brings a lot of enthusiasm”. He added: “I was impressed with how Van Persie responded, he was very professional. For Robin, only one thing counts. He wants to go to the European Championships.”

Van Persie has since responded to the change stating: “Of course, I am disappointed but a new coach can always choose a new leader, that is his right. I’m glad I’m still second captain”.

Both sides have previously met in October 2014 when two goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson were enough to give Iceland a 2-0 victory over the Oranje. The Netherlands currently sit third with ten points in Group A having won three, drawn one and losing two of their matches. Meanwhile, Iceland have won five of their games, losing just one to the Czech Republic back in November 2014.

Iceland have a number of familiar faces in their squad, with former Ajax striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson set to start up front, while ex-Heerenveen striker Alfred Finnbogason and former-AZ winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson are also in with a chance of playing. All will be hoping to make their mark in Thursday’s mouth watering encounter.

Iceland midfielder Emil Hallfredsson is out having picked up a muscle tear in Verona’s 2-0 defeat of Genoa earlier this week.

Blind’s son Daley is set to start at his favoured left-back position replacing the injured Jetro Willems, whilst the experienced Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Luuk De Jong are set to battle it out for a place in the starting 11.


Netherlands 4-3-3: Cillessen; Van der Wiel, Blind, De Vrij, Martins Indi; De Jong, Sneijder, Wijnaldum; Depay, Robben, Van Persie.

Iceland 4-3-2-1: Halldorsson; B Bjarnason, Skulason, Sigurdsson, Gislason; Gunnarsson, Sigurosson, T Bjarnason; Gudmundsson, Boovarsson; Sigthorsson.


Milorad Mazic (Serbia)


Netherlands 2-1 Iceland


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EURO 2016 QUALIFIER: Czech Rep 2-1 Netherlands



Dire Defending from the Dutch costs them as Guus Hiddink’s first game ends in defeat and the Dutch lose a qualification game for the first time in nearly three years reports Ryan O’Grady.

The Road to France starts here and even though the Dutch are favourites to progress from their qualification group it won’t be straightforward. In their group they face tough games against teams like Turkey, Iceland and tonight’s opponents the Czech Republic. Turkey will be a tough opponent with players such as Arda Turan, Hakan Çalhanoğlu and even Nuri Şahin if he can recover from his injuries. Iceland will also be tough opponents as they only just missed out on this year’s World Cup after losing their play-off to Croatia and have dangerous players like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alfred Finnbogason. The rest of the group is made up by Latvia and Kazakhstan where the Dutch should definitely pick up maximum points.

Tonight’s opponents are no walkovers either having qualified for the last Euros in 2012 but they are in something of a rebuild and haven’t recorded a victory in their last 4 games under their new coach Pavel Vrba. The Dutch are coming off the back of a very positive World Cup where they surpassed their own expectations but this positivity has been somewhat dampened by their recent loss to Italy where they were completely outclassed and didn’t record a single shot on target. That game was Hiddink’s first in his second spell as national team manager and saw him use a back four. Today’s game however saw the Dutch start with three centre-backs and two wingbacks, a system used under previous manager Louis van Gaal.

The opening 10 minutes of this game saw the Czech showing the Dutch players respect as they sat back not wanting to get caught out and as a result there were no chances in the opening period. However after the first 10 minutes the Czech Republic came out of their shell and were more forthcoming in attack. First Krejci had a decent cross into the box cleared well by Nigel de Jong for a corner. The Czechs took it short and worked it well and eventually the ball fell to Darida inside the box and his shot was blocked for a corner. Memphis Depay was by far the Netherlands’ best player in the first half and in the 14th minute he wiggled his way past a couple of defenders before giving the ball out to Daryl Janmaat on the right wing before the Newcastle defender crossed it for Robin van Persie and his flicked shot was deflected behind for a corner that came to nothing. Czech striker David Lafata appeared to suffer a serious head injury when he was caught on the jaw by an accidental knee from Stefan de Vrij. He went on to recover and was heavily involved in the next passage of play that resulted in a goal for the Czech Republic. Lafata received the ball inside the box with his back to goal and had Bruno Martins Indi behind him. His first touch was brilliant and with his second touch he laid the ball off to Bořek Dočkal who struck it beautifully first time and it hit the inside of the post before just sneaking inside the other post in the 21st minute. The Dutch had a really good chance to reply only 4 minutes later when Daley Blind supplied a sublime cross into the box that Georginio Wijnaldum ran onto but the bounce was a bit high and the PSV midfielder could only put it over with an outstretched leg. The Czech Republic had clearly worked on set-pieces on the training ground as nearly every single one caught out the Dutch defence, in the 30th minute they had a free kick that was played across the edge of the box and Darida allowed the ball to run through his legs before Limberský followed up with a shot that looked good but was blocked inside the box. The Dutch then had another guilt-edged chance to equalise only a minute later as Janmaat put in a low cross that van Persie looked like he was going to hit but then for some reason he left and it clearly surprised Petr Čech but he managed to stick a leg out and clear it although it wasn’t heading in. Hiddink clearly wasn’t happy with the way things were panning out and in the 38th minute he brought off Joel Veltman for Luciano Narsingh to revert back to a traditional 4-3-3 employed in the previous game against Italy.  Depay then had a brilliant shot from distance that was destined for the corner of the net before Čech pushed it over. Substitute Narsingh also had a late chance in the half as he received the ball in the 6-yard box but it was at an awkward height and he couldn’t get any power on his shot and it was easily cleared.

The Dutch came out in the second half much the better side and in the 52nd minute Wesley Sneijder put through Depay with a wonderful ball but centre back Provcházka recovered well and won a goal kick for his side. Only 2 minutes later the Dutch equalised, an initial Dutch corner was half dealt with by the defence but Blind reintroduced the ball and De Vrij rose above the defence and sent a header across goal into the corner of the net. The Czechs then had another decent free kick, this the ball landed in the box and it looked like Provcházka was going to hit before Martins Indi recovered and put him off. For the next 10 minutes or so the only notable occurrences were substitutions from the Czech Republic. The Dutch had a great chance in the 78th minute to go ahead when Narsingh put in a lofted ball that Depay got his head to but it was easily saved by Čech because rather than putting any power behind his header, Depay appeared to just let the ball bounce off his head. This miss was almost punished from another set-piece from the Czech Republic, this time a short corner was put in by Darida and Kaderabek headed it on before Provcházka put it over from about 1 yard out with his header. This miss didn’t cost his side dearly however because at the beginning of stoppage time Limberský put in a cross that Janmaat attempted to head back to Cillessen but instead hit his own post before coming back across the goal behind the diving Cillessen and allowed substitute Pilař to snatch victory right at the death.


Czech Republic: Čech, Provcházka, Kadlec, Limberský, Rosický, Vácha (Kolář 81’), Dočkal (Pilař 66’), Krejci, Darida, Kaderabek, Lafata (Vydra 72’)

Goals: Dočkal 21’, Pilař 90+1’

Bookings: Provcházka 8’, Limberský 90+3’

Netherlands: Cillessen, Janmaat, Veltman (Narsingh 38’), de Vrij, Martins Indi, Sneijder, de Jong, Wijnaldum, Blind, van Persie, Depay

Goals: De Vrij 55’

Bookings: Martins Indi 71’


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FRIENDLY: Italy 2-0 Netherlands



A commanding performance from Italy rendered the Dutch attack useless, as they didn’t manage a single shot on target on Guus Hiddink’s return. Two goals in the first half allowed Italy to sit back in the second half and control the game writes Ryan O’Grady.

Tonight’s game at the Stadio Comunale San Nicola in Bari was the first for both teams since the World Cup and saw the coming together of two new managers in Antonio Conte for Italy and Guus Hiddink for the Netherlands, although in Hiddink’s case he has managed the Netherlands before from 1994 to 1998. Italy had a poor World Cup despite winning their first game; they lost to Costa Rica and Ururguay meaning they didn’t get out of the group. The Netherlands on the other hand did much better than expected; playing brilliant football and making it it all the way to the semi-finals before winning the 3rd place playoff with a young team that looks promising for the future.

Italy started the game on fire scoring after only 2 minutes when a long ball from Leonardo Bonucci went straight down the middle of the pitch and Bruno Martins Indi, who has started the season so well with FC Porto, fell asleep for a split second which allowed Immobile to race onto the ball and round the oncoming Jasper Cillessen before coolly slotting home. Italy continued this domination, only a few minutes later right-back Matteo Darmian put in a decent cross that seemed destined for Simone Zaza before Martins Indi cleared. Martins Indi was then caught out again in the 8th minute when Zaza was put through before Martins Indi came across the back of him and brought him down resulting in a penalty and a red card for Martins Indi. The penalty was rolled into the corner of the net by Daniele De Rossi to keep up Jasper Cillessen’s record of never saving a penalty in his professional career. Italy completely controlled the first half and repeatedly their three centre-backs were on the halfway line and there were no worries that the Dutch would counter attack as they barely touched the ball for the whole half, their only effort was a half chance for Wesley Sneijder on the edge of the box. Due to the red card winger Jeremain Lens was brought off in the 11th minute for centre-back Joel Veltman to try and secure the defence. In the first half the Dutch ball retention was very poor and in the 19th minute they gave it away again allowing Immobile to break clear before unselfishly laying it off to Zaza who had a shot but it was brilliantly saved by Cillessen. There was a slight lull in the game for the next 10 minutes where the Italians controlled the ball and didn’t let the Dutch anywhere near it. In the 30th minute Zaza received the ball on the edge of the box and with his chest laid it off beautifully for Immobile but the bounce was slightly too high and he put it over. The rest of the half was just filled with Italian half chances including a long-range effort from left-back Mattia De Sciglio that was easily saved by Cillessen.

The second started off with a decent chance for the Netherlands, first a long ball was headed away by Andrea Ranocchia but it only went as far as Daley Blind who immediately headed it into the path of Robin Van Persie in the box but his first time shot was just past the post. Then Sneijder had a long range shot that was going wide and should’ve been easily picked up by Sirigu but he spilt it although no one was following up which meant that he could recover the ball. This was followed by an absolute thunderbolt of a shot from Bonucci from just outside the centre circle that was on target but Cillessen collected it easily enough. It was 10 minutes before either side had another chance due to the game being broken up for multiple substitutions. In the 65th minute Cillessen received the ball under no pressure but dallied on it encouraging Immobile to run towards him from the side, Cillessen tried a drag back which Immobile seemed to be the favourite for but then Cillessen fell over and won a free kick and replays showed there wasn’t a lot of contact between the two players. There was another weird moment in the 71st minute when Veltman fell to the ground off the ball and claimed he was elbowed in the chest but replays showed barely any contact at all and that Veltman was exaggerating. The final decent chance in the game came just before the 80th minute when substitute Mattia Destro passed the ball out to fellow substitute Manuel Pasqual who crossed the ball back into Destro who had made a run into the box but unfortunately the ball was just too high and the young striker could only head it over.


Italy: Sirigu, Bonucci, Darmian (Candreva 72’), Ranocchia, Astori, De Sciglio (Pasqual 67’), De Rossi (Parolo 67’), Marchisio (Veratti 63’), Giaccherini, Immobile (Giovinco 77’), Zaza (Destro 73’)

Goals: Immobile 2’, De Rossi (Pen 10’)

Bookings: Veratti 74’

Netherlands: Cillessen, Janmaat (van der Wiel 72’), de Vrij, Martins Indi, de Jong (Pieters 63’), Wijnaldum (Fer 86’), Blind, Kuyt, van Persie (Narsingh 80’), Lens (Veltman 12’)

Goals: None

Bookings: None

Red Cards: Martins Indi 9’


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Hiddink returns as Oranje head coach

Guus Hiddink was introduced today as the new Netherlands coach to lead Oranje into the European Championship 2016 qualifiers. The 67-year-old has vowed that he will compile a team that will play “attractive but practical football” writes Will Burns.

New Oranje head coach Hiddink (centre) poses with assistants van Nistelrooy (right) and Blind (left).

Hiddink has already had a spell as head coach of his country in 1995 for a three-year tenure and is well coveted inside the Netherlands. He led PSV Eindhoven to a record-breaking six Eredivisie championships and four KNVB Bekers but, perhaps his greatest achievement, was taking underdogs South Korea, to a last four finish in their own backyard at the 1998 World Cup finals.

Hiddink has been named to replace Louis van Gaal earlier this year as Van Gaal had stated he wished to return to club management and later accepted the manager’s job at Manchester United. Hiddink has large shoes to fill as Van Gaal himself pulled off a great World Cup feat himself this summer, leading Oranje to third place and bronze medal in Brazil.

As the KNVB unveiled Hiddink, he said at the press conference: “First and foremost, bravo to the team, both the players and the technical staff who worked under Louis van Gaal.” He added: “There will not be many changes, I felt great enthusiasm on starting my first official day of work today.”.

Hiddink stated that he wished to keep faith in the ‘Dutch school’ while also hoping to maintain the “instinct of survival” that Van Gaal had established inside the team.

Hiddink has been out of coaching work since leaving Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in July last year, but at the end of last season acted as a consultant for Philip Cocu at PSV.

The deal Hiddink has signed with the KNVB runs through to the end of the 2016 European Championships in France, after which he will be replaced by current assistant Danny Blind. His other assistant will be former Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.


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WORLD CUP: Netherlands vs. Argentina Preview

The characteristics of the second semi-final of the 2014 World Cup are eerily similar to that of the first. On one hand, you have a team bouyed by the brilliance of a Barcelona superstar, with an overpowering support due to the geographical location of the tournament, a somewhat suspect defense and plenty of questions left unanswered after the group stage, last 16 and quarter-final matches. On the other hand you have a European team based on systems, formations and tactics, with a rotating cast of characters that are slotted in and taken out to fit requirements, with technical brilliance coming out of their ears.

You don’t get any medals for being able to establish what team falls into what category. Argentina will be relying on the individual brilliance that is Lionel Messi and the possibility of him not showing up, or the more possible eventuality that van Gaal figures out how to close him out of the game, is a scary one for Argentinian fans and players.

The Netherlands will be looking to the sideline and what Louis van Gaal can muster up to defeat their South American opponents. While Arjen Robben has been immense from the first game against Spain, Louis van Gaal has been stealing the spotlight for the entirety of the competition and the signs point towards that happening yet again on the field in Sao Paulo.

While many expected last night to be a war of attrition, it ended up to be the exact opposite but you can expect tonight’s game to be the battle that we have bee waiting for. The longer the game goes without a goal, the likelier it is that a mazy dribble by Messi will decide it.

A lot is riding on the availability of Nigel de Jong and should he be able to play, a man-marking job on Lionel Messi is exactly what can be expected from the A.C Milan midfielder. Louis van Gaal has made it no secret that he has a plan for Lionel Messi and it will be difficult to bet against the Dutch manager, given his ability to develop and coach a fully functional system.

Argentina don’t score many goals on the counter, but they do spend quite a large percentage of time in the attacking third of the field, so it is a matter of van Gaal making sure his defense is structurally solid as opposed to being good in transition. The Dutch have been solid throughout the World Cup and, as stated, if De Jong can play, this will be the deciding of the match.

As for de Jong’s replacement? Daley Blind is a possibility but his lack of pace might be shown up, De Guzman may not have the quality to live with Lionel Messi, Jordy Clasie is a poor tackler and might have to do a lot of it against the little maestro. As the saying goes, only time will tell as to how van Gaal is thinking.

Ron Vlaar is doubtful with a knee injury, but the beauty of van Gaal’s system is that it is similar to a “plug-and-play” device. The fact that Vlaar has been so good is the fact that van Gaal’s philosophy is based on the whole being better than the sum of it’s parts. This injury concern could be just another way for van Gaal to show of his tactical nuance on one of the biggest stages in World Football.

Robin van Persie’s availability is also in question (stomach and intestinal issues) and, if he is available, would be a good bet to score first against the Argentines. He has not scored in the knockout stages and could break the tie open with a goal against a questionably porous Argentinian defense. The Argentinians tend to concede more shots than they might like and a player with Van Persie’s finishing could capitalise on that kind of statistic. Van Persie is the captain of the side and van Gaal’s leader on the field. He has a stomach issue and did not train with the squad on Tuesday.

The Netherlands also like to exploit the wings and, in the absence of Angel di Maria, will certainly create chances from these positions, particularly on the right hand side with Kuyt there to allow Robben the freedom he has enjoyed so much throughout the tournament.

If the Netherlands can get their tactics right, it could end up being another beating for the South Americans, but don’t expect a hammering like last night. A 3-1 victory for the Dutch is, however, possible given their solidity at the back and quality in attack.

BET VICTOR are offering a massive 35/1 for a Dutch 3-1 – click here to sign up to a new account and take advantage of up to £25 in free bets.


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De Jong to return for Van Gaal?

While Louis van Gaal has never needed much of an excuse to tinker with his formations and personnel, we are sure that he would prefer to have a full compliment of players available when he is picking his team heading into their World Cup semi-final against Argentina on Wednesday.

The good news on that front for van Gaal is that Nigel de Jong might have recovered in time from the groin injury that kept him out of the quarter-final clash with Costa Rica – a game that they subsequently won on penalties.

Early in the Netherlands last 16 meeting with Mexico, de Jong went down with a groin injury and the worst was feared. The initial recovery time was two to four weeks and the semi-final will only be 10 days since the original injury, so to say the chances are slim would be an understatement. But the fact that there is even a chance is a testament to the player and his commitment to playing for his country. That initial recovery time would have been enough to rule him out of the entire World Cup but the A.C Milan midfielder said recently that, “We will see, I will do everything in my possibility to start this game as it is only one game to the final.”

Having decided to stay with his teammates for nothing more than moral support, it is believed that his recovery is moving a lot quicker than expected.

The Dutch boss was forced to switch to a 3-4-3 against Costa Rica with two things being taken into consideration. The fact that he didn’t have as many midfield options as he might have liked, and the extra attacker might yield more against weaker opposition.

Georginio Wijnaldum and Wesley Sneijder played in midfield with Memphis Depay starting up front in the modified line-up but against Costa Rica. Against Argentina, however, a player like de Jong will be needed to curb any influence that Lionel Messi might have on the game and will more than likely man-mark him if that is the tactic that Van Gaal chooses to deploy as opposed to a more zonal based defensive setup. Pushing attacking threats deeper and deeper and away from goal is something that Nigel de Jong has carved a career for himself doing.

De Jong, who many feel didn’t paint himself in glory during the 2010 World Cup final with his infamous high tackle on Xabi Alonso, is eager to make it back to the same juncture of the competition with a different outcome this time.

De Jong has had somewhat of a resurgence during the World Cup and is now linked with a move back to England and Manchester, this time to the red half of the city. He played in all three of the Netherlands’ group games and was unlucky to have pulled up so early against Mexico but a possible return against Argentina would defeat all odds.


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Hiddink signs two year deal with KNVB


Voetbal International tonight report that the KNVB are ready to officially announce Guus Hiddink as Netherlands head coach later this week. He will become Louis van Gaal’s successor after this summer’s World Cup finals and he has signed a two-year contract. This will see Hiddink lead the Oranje into the Euro 2016 qualifiers and finals.

Hiddink will be joined by former Oranje stars, 37-year-old Ruud van Nistelrooy and 51-year-old Danny Blind in his backroom staff. Already, the intentions have been mentioned that Danny Blind has been mooted as Hiddink’s successor after he steps down after the European Championships.

The 60-year-old had also requested to be joined by Jaap Stam but the former Oranje defender declined the offer. An attempt to lure Jan Wouters into the coaching team has been declined by his employer, FC Utrecht.

It is understood that Frans Hoek will complete Hiddink’s team as a goalkeeping coach. With all the young talent that current Oranje coach Van Gaal has brought into the fold over the last two years, it is a mouth-watering prospect to think that Guus Hiddink will lead them into the future.


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Hiddink to return as Oranje coach in summer


Guus Hiddink stated last night that he and the KNVB have agreed a deal to take over the Netherlands national team once again after the World Cup this summer and will compile an all-star cast to help him.

Hiddink is set to replace Louis van Gaal after the World Cup in Brazil, as Van Gaal has already announced he will step down after the tournament. Hiddink returns after already having a previous four year tenure with Holland in 1994-1998, leading a young Dutch squad to the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup finals in France, where they lost a penalty shootout to Brazil. One of the Dutchman’s greatest achievements in international football was leading South Korea to an unanticipated semi-final berth in the 2002 World Cup finals.

The Dutchman has not been involved in club management since leaving Russian Premier League side Anzhi Makhachkala last year. Hiddink as of late, has been acting as an advisor at PSV Eindhoven, where he is held in high regard at the club, helping Phillip Cocu lead the team to four wins in their last four outings.

The 67-year-old is set to amass all former Dutch internationals as his staff below him to lead the Oranje into the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Speaking to NOS Sport, Hiddink said: “I am working with the KNVB to create a great coaching line-up around me and we will need a few days or maybe a couple of weeks to compile such a team.

“They will be a great team. I will not be a free-wheeling coach. When I do something, I want to do it as well to my ability, otherwise I would not choose to do it.”

The return of Hiddink leading the national squad again is a mouth-watering prospect especially with all the young talent that Van Gaal has brought in over the past few years in charge. The future definitely looks good for the Oranje.


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In a 33 man squad, RVP & Huntelaar return for France clash


Oranje coach Louis van Gaal has named a huge 33-man provisional squad for the Netherlands’ friendly match with France on March 5th in Paris. The friendly with France is the first of four warm-up games for the Dutch ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

Dutch captain Robin van Persie returns after having missed his country’s last two friendlies through injury.

Also recalled is Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who has only recently made his comeback after a knee injury. The 30-year-old striker had spent five months on the sidelines but has scored two goals in four league appearances for the Bundesliga side since returning to action after the winter break.

Van Gaal has also announced six players to his squad who could win their first cap including dangerous winger Jean-Paul Boëtius, who has been in great form over the past few months for Feyenoord and could receive his first cap in Paris. Other possible debutants in the squad include PSV pair Karim Rekik and goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet, FC Twente’s Quincy Promes, Vitesse’s Davy Pröpper and Ajax’s Davy Klaassen.


GOALKEEPERS: Jasper CILLESSEN (Ajax), Tim KRUL (Newcastle United), Maarten STEKELENBURG (Fulham), Kenneth VERMEER (Ajax), Michel VORM (Swansea City), Jeroen ZOET (PSV).

DEFENDERS: Daley BLIND (Ajax), Jeffrey BRUMA (PSV), Stefan DE VRIJ (Feyenoord), Bruno MARTINS INDI (Feyenoord), Daryl JANMAAT (Feyenoord), Karim REKIK (PSV), Gregory VAN DER WIEL (Paris Saint-Germain), Joel VELTMAN (Ajax), Paul VERHAEGH (FC Augsburg), Ron VLAAR (Aston Villa).

MIDFIELDERS: Jordy CLASIE (Feyenoord), Nigel DE JONG (AC Milan), Siem DE JONG (Ajax), Leroy FER (Norwich City), Davy KLAASSEN (Ajax), Davy PROPPER (Vitesse), Stijn SCHAARS (PSV), Wesley SNEIJDER (Galatasaray), Kevin STROOTMAN (AS Roma).

FORWARDS: Jean-Paul BOETIUS (Feyenoord), Memphis DEPAY (PSV), Klaas-Jan HUNTELAAR (Schalke), Dirk KUYT (Fenerbahçe), Luciano NARSINGH (PSV), Quincy PROMES (FC Twente), Arjen ROBBEN (Bayern Munich), Robin VAN PERSIE (Manchester United).


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