Category Archives: ORANJE

Van Gaal explains Krul and Cillessen switch

For any other manager and it would be classed as a bizarre gamble but not Louis van Gaal.

Last night, with the game producing no goals and entering stoppage time at the end of extra time, Van Gaal replaced first choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen with substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul. The decision proved to be a tactical master stroke as Krul went on to save spot-kicks from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to secure the Netherlands a 4-3 penalty shootout victory and a semi-final clash on Wednesday night against Argentina in Sao Paulo.

Van Gaal stated after the match that Cillessen was not aware of the possible substitution because he did not want to “ruin the preparation” of the Ajax stopper.

“Thankfully it worked out because otherwise I’d have made the wrong tactical change.”


Cillessen has made no mistakes for the Dutch so far and even made a decisive last gasp save to prevent the Costa Ricans from snatching the victory last night. However out of the four goals that Cillessen has conceded in the tournament, two of which have been penalty kicks. After weighing up this and Newcastle’s Tim Krul impressing at the training camp, the Manchester United manager made the huge decision to exchange them with seconds of  extra-time remaining.

Proud of his actions, the Oranje coach said: “We found that among our three goalkeepers that Krul was the best at saving penalties because he has a longer reach. So we studied the Costa Rican penalties and you can see that Krul guessed the right way every time. I am really pleased that the decision paid off.”

Although, for the first time this tournament, we did see some unrest in the Dutch camp with the substitution decision. Once taken off, many witnessed Cillessen booting water bottles on the touchline and had to be consoled by team-mates. Watching from the sideline, it did not take long for Cillessen to get over his disappointment of being substituted as raced on the pitch and punched the air in celebration once Krul has performed his heroics.

The decision was a huge risk but the more intimidating Krul seemed to upset the Costa Ricans before each penalty was taken. In a true example of gamesmanship, the Newcastle keeper would talk to each player before they lined up their shot, and proceeded to jump up and down on the line to make himself fill out the goalmouth.

It worked a treat as Krul looked super confident during the shootout, saving the second and fifth penalties. Afterwards, Krul stated that is he was delighted with his role.

Krul, talking to De Telegraaf, stated “Tonight I have realised a dream and what I experienced out there is an incredible emotion. The coach had warned me it may happen and I was fully prepared, as I knew that I may have had this opportunity.”

Van Gaal has announced, although he was thrilled with Krul’s shootout performance, Cillessen would keep his place in the starting line-up. “There is no question about who will start next game, it will be Cillessen.”


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Van Gaal’s gamble is Krul on Costa Rica


Netherlands win 4-3 on penalties

Keylor Navas was the star of the show, making a string of saves keeping the Dutch at bay in a groundhog day type match for the Oranje. However, Tim Krul proved to steal the headlines after another ballsy move from Louis van Gaal paid off, and the Dutch will face Argentina next Wednesday in the semi-finals.

With a versatile squad at his disposal, Louis van Gaal again rang the changes as Oranje lined up to play the Costa Ricans tonight. We saw the return of Bruno Martins Indi for the first time since suffering a concussion against Australia in the group stages. Young PSV prodigy Memphis Depay joined the starting line-up as Dirk Kuyt moved into right-wing back with Daley Blind sitting on the left.

Although the Dutch enjoyed the majority of the possession early on, they failed to break down the hard-working Costa Rica. Jorge Luis Pinto noticed this and made a tweak, pushing Joel Campbell out to the right to use his pace in defence and stop the Dutch attacks down that side as team captain Bryan Ruiz, trudges over to the centre.

We had to wait until 22 minutes of play to see the first real chance, and it was a lovely move from Van Gaal’s men. Kuyt received the ball high up on the right wing and subsequently slotted in Depay on the edge of the area. The PSV winger unselfishly laid the ball into Robin van Persie who blasted towards goal. One of the contender for ‘Goalkeeper of the Tournament’ Keylor Navas, parried the shot away into the path of Wesley Sneijder, who drove a low shot which the Costa Rican stopper again halted from entering the net.

Just before the half-hour mark, the in-form Navas was called into action again. Bryan Ruiz was forced into a mistake by Stefan de Vrij and in turn lost to the ball to Van Persie. The Manchester United striker surged forward and dished out to a sprinting Depay cutting in from the left. Unfortunately for youngster, his early low drive at goal was stopped by the Levante keeper’s feet.

Navas has a release clause in his contract of €8m and has been linked with Monaco, Atletico Madrid among others and once again was denying Holland on 38 minutes. After Junior Diaz have picked up a booking for pulling back Arjen Robben, Sneijder took the resulting free-kick from around 30 yards out. The Galatasaray man hit the shot perfectly but the agile Navas leapt across the goal to palm in it out for a corner, and made sure that the sides went into half-time goal less.

After a cautious beginning to the second-half, the Costa Ricans started to get into the game. Always looking good from set-pieces, Costa Rica had a great chance to take the lead just after the hour mark. Giancarlo González headed over a wonderful whipping deep ball from a Christian Bolaños free-kick. In a similar move ten minutes later, Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar nodded over a Wesley Sneijder cross at the opposite end.

The Costa Ricans were frustrating Van Gaal’s men and trying to counter attack when they could and Holland lacked urgency needed for a World Cup quarter final. The Dutch were finding it harder and harder as the clock ran down to break open the Navas’ defence. Navas was finally beaten on 83 minutes but he was saved by the post. After Gonzalez tugged on Robben’s shirt on the edge of the box, Sneijder’s resultant free-kick smashed off the post.

Around half a minute later, Navas stopped a great Van Persie effort to send the neutrals inside the jam-packed Arena Fonte Nova into raptures, cheering on every save the Levante man made.

With a few minutes to go, in an unusual moment, Van Persie miss kicked an excellent ball from Sneijder to flabbergast the crowd. The ball was put on a plate for the Man United forward just two yards out, it was a poor miss for a man of his quality.

After that shock, the fans were left in more disbelief deep into stoppage time. After a RVP free-kick was comfortably punched away by Navas, the ball fell to Daley Blind on the left wing. He fired a low ball across the front of goal which everyone missed but fell perfectly for Van Persie again at the back post. Van Persie blasted a shot at goal and somehow it was flicked up onto the bar by Yeltsin Tejeda.

Usual play resumed once extra time began as Navas saved a Ron Vlaar power header at goal from a corner. Minutes later, the underdogs had a weak penalty shout as Marco Ureña was protesting that Vlaar had fouled him in the area, however, Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov waved away appeals.

After Sneijder rattled the crossbar, the clock wore down and the inevitable was happening, the dreaded penalty shootout. With this in mind, Van Gaal then pulled a massive call out of the bag as the new Manchester United boss as subbed goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for Newcastle United’s Tim Krul in the final moments of extra time.

There was a reason why…

Krul guessed the right way for every penalty and saved Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umaña’s efforts as Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder and Kuyt dispatched their shots to clinch the semi-final slot.

It was a massive move by Van Gaal and our English readers better get used to it. Van Gaal is going to be the new Manchester United manager and he does not care who he upsets to get the success he so dearly wants. Every gamble this World Cup has come off so far, he’s on a roll.


NETHERLANDS: Cillessen (Krul 120), De Vrij, Vlaar, Martins Indi (Huntelaar 106), Kuyt, Blind, Wijnaldum, Sneijder, Depay (Lens 76), Van Persie, Robben.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Martins Indi 64, Huntelaar 110.

COSTA RICA: Navas, Acosta, Gonzalez, Umana, Borges, Bolanos, Diaz, Gamboa (Myrie 79), Tejeda (Cubero 97), Ruiz, Campbell (Ureña 66).

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Diaz 38, Umana 52, Gonzalez 81.


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Investigating Nigel de Jong’s injury

Holland midfielder Nigel De Jong was forced to leave the pitch with a groin injury 9 minutes into the match against Mexico. It has been confirmed that he had a groin tear and is out the World Cup for rehabilitation writes Reema Chandarana.

At AposTherapy, we treat groin injuries as they commonly affect the gait pattern. A groin tear is a rupture of the inner muscles of the thigh called the adductor group. This group is made up of six muscles of the inner leg. They are responsible for pulling the legs together and other movements of the hip. These groin muscles are commonly pulled due to overstretching caused by rapid lateral movement of the thigh, especially affecting athletes during sprinting. In rare cases, this injury can result in a full rupture, requiring surgery to reattach the torn muscle.

“An MRI examination at hospital confirmed that Nigel de Jong is struggling with a tear in his groin muscle,” the KNVB said in a statement. From this statement, it appears that De Jong has a grade 3 groin strain (link to Gemma’s hamstring blog). As he limped off the pitch it was evidently painful to walk. With this type of injury, swelling is expected with increased pain on high impact activities such as running.

In the first 3 days post injury, PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation) would be advised. The Netherlands physiotherapy team in Brazil would have introduced a rehabilitation programme to get De Jong back playing as soon as possible. It is suspected that De Jong will be out of play between 2 and 4 weeks. During this time, his rehabilitation will be graduated towards sports specific drills and plyometric exercises until he is fit to return to play.

De Jong tweeted: “Devastated with the news about my injury. Sadly enough this is part of the sport as well. Will work hard on my recovery now and keep hope.” He is out of the World Cup, however, we wish him good luck towards his recovery for next season.


Groin tears to the adductors can be very tricky. These injuries are not straightforward and I have seen these injuries last for months. It really depends on where the tear has taken place as well. Is it at the tendo-osseous junction – where the tendon meets the bone? Is it in the belly of the muscle? These are the questions that will determine the prognosis. In addition, treating these injuries is not as simple as PRICE Principle. There are innovative new treatments available for tears to the muscle, such as Platelet Rich Plasma. This treatment could also be of benefit in increasing healing time and decreasing the amount of scar tissue when healing. In my experience with injuries like this, if this player is lucky it will be more like four to six weeks before he is match fit. In any event, we wish him well with his rehabilitation and I look forward to seeing him play in future tournaments.

Dr. Ralph Rogers  MD PhD MBA


Consultant in Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine

Website –

Twitter – @DrRalphRogers

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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WORLD CUP: Oranje held by Estonia

ESTONIA 2 (Vassiljev 18, 57)

NETHERLANDS 2 (Robben 2, Van Persie 90+4 P)

It was an uncharacteristic performance from Louis van Gaal’s boys, as they rescued their unbeaten record in World Cup qualifying with an injury-time penalty kick to secure a 2-2 draw with underdogs Estonia.

Amkar Perm attacking midfielder Konstantin Vassiljev struck twice for the home side and looked to have sealed a memorable victory for the Estonians. However, the Dutch have previously won all six of their matches in Group D of the UEFA qualification section, but they had to rely on a controversial Robin van Persie penalty to gain a point.

Dangerman Arjen Robben broke the deadlock with his 19th goal for his country. The Bayern Munich winger curled his effort beyond the reach of goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko from inside the penalty area.

The Oranje lead only lasted 15 minutes as Vassiljev broke through a weak challenge 25 yards from goal and sent a low shot past Swansea ‘keeper Michel Vorm. The Estonian then doubled his and his teams tally with a cute lob just before the hour, as he met a perfect through ball from Joel Lindpere and lifted the ball over Vorm.

However, Manchester United hitman Robin van Persie broke Estonian hearts after winning a penalty from what appeared to be a good challenge from Raio Piiroja. The defender received a second yellow card and RVP converted the spot kick.

Tuesday sees Van Gaal’s side to have the chance to redeem themselves against Andorra, and the Dutch fans will be expecting a much improved performance.



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Before clashing on the 6th of September for the WC2014 qualification campaign, Netherlands and Estonia had already squared up in the A.LeCoq Arena 12 years ago. It’s a game that all Estonian football fans have had carved in their memories notwithstanding the final result was favorable to the visitors.


ESTONIA 2-4 NETHERLANDS (WCQ – 2nd June 2001 – A.LeCoq Arena)

First of all, it was the very first game that the Estonian national team played at the newly built stadium.

Secondly, Estonia managed to hold on a goalless draw the Dutch side for more than a hour.

Let’s remind some of those who were playing in the Dutch side: Van der Saar, Frank de Boer, Reiziger, Cocu, Hasselbaink, Kluivert and, last but not least, Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

However, this was nothing yet compared to what happened at 64’.

Estonia steals possession from the Dutch in midfield; the ball is brought back into defence; a vertical pass is sent Marko Kristal: the nr.10 sees nr.9, striker Andres Oper, attacking the space with his speed and serves him deep with one touch. The Dutch rearguard is suprised by the quick unexpected verticalization: Oper avoids one opponent, then resists to Mario Melchiot trying to disturb him; Oper is already in the box when he slams it past Van der Saar: 1-0 for Estonia!

The entire Lilleküla audience is standing up celebrating the goal: madness brings one Estonian fan to invade the pitch to reach the bunch of Estonian footballers however he’s promptly stopped by the stewards. The new stadium doesn’t have any kind of fences yet.

The Dutch players are incredulous at what just happened: they are one down with less than half an hour to go against Estonia, a football minnow.

Notwithstanding the embarassment, they will manage to pull themselves together and equalize four minutes later with Captain Frank De Boer firing a rocket at Martin Kaalma’s goal. The poweful shot is deflected by the then young defender Raio Piiroja. 1-1

However, it happens again.

76’, Kristal works out a long ball for Oper on the right flank. Oper has a lot of space to run in to catch it. When he latches onto it, Melchiot is standing on his way at the edge of the box. The nr.11 takes a look at what’s going on inside the box and sends it in on the front post where Zelinski is quicker and anticipates the Dutch defender: 2-1!

Fifteen minutes to go and Estonia is leading again!

This time it will last longer, seven minutes, as Van Nistelrooy (who subbed Hasselbaink earlier) will make it even again with a poacher’s goal.

The rest is known: in the remaining time (eight minutes plus added time) Van Nistelrooy and Kluivert will sign the Dutch comeback for a 2-4 final score.


After that, Estonia haven’t managed to score against the Orange, let alone to take the lead of the game: 5-0 the return game in September 2001 and 3-0 the game last Spring in Amsterdam.

Out of that Estonian team only Andres Oper and Raio Piiroja are still active, with the latter being the captain and Oper the Estonian international topscorer of all times.

Kristal and Zelinski have both retired and they work together as coach and assistant coach at FC Levadia Talinn (Estonia’s second most-titled club) currently top of the Estonian top-flight table.

The back then coach of Estonia was a Dutchman: Arnoldus ’Arno’ Pijpers, 42 games as Estonian coach in 5 years (2000-2005), now coach at a club in Kazakhstan (FK Taraz) after working for many years within the Estonian FA to develop the youth system.

Van Gaal will be back for the second time in Lilleküla stadium: will he have a deja vu of that crazy ’white night’?



Coach Tarmo Rüütli has picked up 24 men ahead of the clash with Van Gaal side.

The squad is made up mostly by footballers playing abroad with the only exceptions represented by Dmitri Kruglov, a left full-back who recently returned to Estonia (at Levadia) after a contract terminated in Russia (FC Rostov); Estonian Champion (with club Nõmme Kalju) right full-back Tihhon Śiśov and finally the midfielders Alexander Dmitrijev (Levadia Tallinn) and Martin Vunk (Sillamäe Kalev).

Defender Ragnar Klavan, is the only one playing in a European top league as he’s at his second stint with FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga.

Two of the 24 don’t play in Europe: Captain Raio Piiroja has signed this year for Chinese club Chengdu Blades and Joel Lindpere is earning a living at Chicago Fire in the MLS (he was at New York Red Bulls with Thierry Henry before moving to Michigan State).

Oper was not called up due to an injury to his shoulder he picked up in…a taxi: ’We were sitting with a friend in a taxi – recalls the record topscorer about the accident occurred in June – when suddenly a bus drove into us! I don’t know why it happened, maybe brakes didn’t work. Initially I just felt something weird with my shoulder, but nothing else. Later on it was more and more painful. The doctor suggested to do some x-ray: it was clear I had to go into surgery.’

With Oper ruled-out, the top-scorer available for Rüütli is midfielder Kostantin ’Kostja’ Vassiljev (15 times netting with ’sinisärk’, the blue jersey), a regular at FK Amkar Perm, Russia.

Vassiljev was the great protagonist of the enthusing ride that brought Estonia to EC2012 play-offs lost to Ireland in November 2011, the highest tip reached by the Baltic country in football.

Rising stars of the national team are the forwards Henrik Ojamaa (11 caps 0 goals, a regular at Legia Warsaw, Poland) and Henri Anier (8 caps 3 goals, recently signed by Motherwell following Ojamaa himself who spent great words for his teammate to be signed by the Scottish club).

After the successful EC2012 campaign, Tarmo Rüütli had to go thru barren times as many protagonists of his typical XI went thru injuries (Piiroja, Vassiljev, Zenjov) and still injuries are affecting his choices: Morozov, replacing the injured Piiroja as centre-back, has picked up a serious rupture of collateral ligaments (3 months out); the right flanker and midfield jolly, Sander Puri, tore an hamstring few weeks ago in an English League Two game with his side, York City FC; Tihhon Śiśov injured his ankle ligaments two days before the Europa League play-offs on board of Kalju; Piiroja himself has just returned to play. Except Morozov, the others have all been called up as Rüütli hopes to recover some of them, with Puri having the best chances of making it compared to the others.

In the last game with Latvia on the 14th of August, Rüütli fielded the following XI (substitutions in grey)


Among Ojamaa and Anier, according to Estonian press, Rüütli should, at the moment, favour the latter however he never disclosed his real intentions. Truth is also that he might entrust the most experienced Zenjov as a starter. The idea of presenting a solid and experienced XI might also extend to the other lines: Kruglov might be played at left full-back in place of Teniste (as he can cover both roles on the left side) and Lindpere be given a starter on the left flank. Ahjupera is not technically endowed, however his physical qualities (196cm) make him the classical ‘tower’ helping the team to come up and opening spaces for the second striker. Kink is ready to replace Puri on the right flank. If no other injury will come on the way, this should be the most probable line-up.



1. The president of the Estonian FA is Mr.Aivar Pohlak. A former writer of books for children, maths and Estonian language and literature teacher, he is the ’founding father’ of modern Estonian football. Controversially, he is also the chairman of club FC Flora which has risen more than an eyebrow for the evident conflict of interests. Try google his name and you will discover his special outfit. He is also a referee of football and recently officiated a national cup game with his daughter and son-in-law as linemen and for the home team he used to play with when he was younger (FC Kuressaare).

2. Arno Piipers is not the only Dutch related to Estonian football. After him, and just before Tarmo Rüütli, another Netherlands son has been sitting on the Estonian bench: Jelle Goes, he had 13 matches as Estonian coach collecting only 2 wins and 1 draw. Today he is offspring manager at Anzhi Makachkala.

3. Other foreign coaches of Estonia have been 3 Hungarians (between the two wars) an Austrian (1930) an Icenlander (1996-1999) and a Danish (caretaker for just 8 games in 2007 before Rüütli was appointed).

4. On club level, there are strong ties between Vitesse Arnhem and FC Flora. Many players have been coming and going from one club to the other (including Raio Piiroja, 2 apppearances with Arnhem’s club). At the moment the goalkeeper Marko Meerits (grown at Flora and sold to Vitesse) has returned to Holland after a loan period back to Flora. In Flora plays the young talent Sander Van de Streek on loan from Vitesse.

5. The previous name of ’A.LeCoq Arena’, Lilleküla, comes from the area where the stadium was built which in Estonian means ’flower village’. The stadium is set between two arms of railways, one south-bound and the other east-bound. The capacity is 9,300 which can be brought to over 10,000 by adding removable stands at each bottom.

6. Ragnar Klavan has set the unbeatable record of being the first Estonian footballer to have played in the Champions League during his stint at AZ Alkmaar. It happened on the 29th of September 2009 when he came in as a substitute in Group H game against Standard Liege. It was the 2009-10 Champions League season, the one that ended up bitterly for Van Gaal in Madrid as he lost to Mourinho’s Internazionale. Just the previous season, the Dutch gaffer was Eredivisie Champion with Alkmaar before Klavan joined the club.

7. Before moving to A.LeCoq Arena, the Estonia national team home was the old stadium of the Kadriorg, the city park. Tallinn has another big stadium, Kalev Staadion, home of the oldest Estonian club: JK Tallinna Kalev. The facility is also home to folk dance festivals and Sunday flea markets during the Summer.

8. The most capped Estonian international is Martin Reim, 157 caps including the game in Lilleküla in 2001. The only active players of the top 10 of the most capped are: Andres Oper (133), Raio Piiroja (111) and Enar Jääger (95). Martin Reim is the present-day U21 coach.

9. Thanks to their successful EC2012 campaign, Estonia reached the record-breaking position of 47th in the FIFA nations ranking. 4 years earlier (2008) they were at 137th. At the moment they are 85th, ahead of the other two Baltic states (Lithuania 106, Latvia 119)

10. Estonia participated into their first UEFA/FIFA final tournament last year when they were awarded as host of the U19 EC which was won by Spain. The Estonian U19 squad didn’t make it past the group stage.


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Angelo Palmeri covers Estonian Football in English at ‘Rumori di Spogliatoio

PSV pair picked by Van Gaal


PSV Eindhoven’s young centre back duo, Jeffrey Bruma and Karim Rekik, have been called up by Louis van Gaal for the Oranje’s two World Cup qualifiers next month. The pair featured in Tuesday’s Champions League’s 1-1 draw with PSV and AC Milan.

It is the first time that Rekik has received a call up, joining PSV on loan from Manchester City. while Bruma, who already has four international caps, has been selected for the first time under Van Gaal’s leadership.

Eighteen-year-old Rekik and the 21-year-old Bruma are part of Philip Cocu’s youthful PSV side who have took the Eredivisie by storm this season, winning all three games of the year so far.

However, the 22-man squad for the two away World Cup qualifiers against Estonia in Tallinn on September 6th and Andorra on September 10th, announced by the KNVB on Wednesday, is again without Galatasaray midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who was surprisingly dropped for friendly against Portugal earlier this month.

Van Gaal stated then that he felt that Sneijder was not fit enough. Schalke striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Swansea City’s Jonathan de Guzman and AS Roma’s Kevin Strootman all miss out of the squad selection with injuries.

The Dutch are seven points clear in Group D and will qualify for Brazil if they win these next two games.

Oranje squad to play Estonia & Andorra in World Cup Qualifiers

Goalkeepers: Kenneth Vermeer (Ajax), Michel Vorm (Swansea City)

Defenders: Ricardo van Rhijn (Ajax), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Daley Blind (Ajax), Jeffrey Bruma (PSV), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Joris Mathijsen (Feyenoord), Karim Rekik (PSV), Paul Verhaegh (FC Augsburg), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord)

Midfielders: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Marco van Ginkel (Chelsea), Rafael van der Vaart (HSV), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV), Stijn Schaars (PSV).

Forwards: Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Ruben Schaken (Feyenoord), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Norwich City).



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Ronaldo spoils Dutch hopes


Cristiano Ronaldo saved Portugal from a defeat to the Oranje as he scored the an 87th minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw.

The Real Madrid winger’s late goal erupted the crowd at the Estadio Algarve on Wednesday night, and cancelled out Roma midfielder’s Kevin Strootman first-half opener.

Despite being stripped of the win, it was a good result for Louis Van Gaal’s side. Missing in action was Wesley Sneijder, who was recently stripped of the captaincy due to the coach’s concern over the Galatasaray man’s fitness.

Feyenoord defender Bruno Martins Indi was handed a start against the country of his birth, alongside a young defence of team-mate Stefan de Vrij, Ajax’s Daley Blind and Paul Verhaegh who plies his trade in Germany with Augsburg. Van Gaal started with a three man midfield of Strootman, Hamburg’s Rafael van der Vaart and PSV’s Georginio Wijnaldum. Up top, we saw the trio of Robin van Persie, Jeremain Lens and Arjen Robbin with goalkeeper Michel Vorm starting inbetween the sticks.

Portugal named a strong eleven, with Ronaldo leading the line alongside Danny and Helder Postiga and it was the Portuguese who created the first chance of the game inside the opening minutes. Ronaldo rose above everyone to nod a tame effort from a Ruben Amorim cross straight at Vorm.

The Oranje scored the opening goal on 17 minutes, new Dynamo Kiev winger Lens found his former PSV team-mate Strootman on the edge of the penalty box and he sent a low drive catching out goalkeeper Beto at his near post.

The hosts pressed for an equaliser and should have score on 29 minutes. Danny picked out Ruben Micael at the far post, only for the midfielder to direct his effort wide from ten yards.

In the second half, the Netherlands did little to trouble the Portuguese goal, and RVP, who was quiet throughout, found himself hauled off on the hour mark. In comparison, Ronaldo stole the show and was in a buoyant mood, and he was very nearly rewarded for his play after 63 minutes, hitting a long-range strike towards the goal, put Vorm saved well.

After midfielder Miguel Veloso hit the crossbar, it was Ronaldo again that came to the rescue. Three minutes to go, Dutch dreams of a win were crushed with Ronaldo finishing from close range colleting the ball from a deflected Veloso corner.


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Van Gaal tells Sneijder to shape up


Netherlands national team coach Louis van Gaal has once again stated that Dutch veteran Wesley Sneijder needs to “get in shape” before he is considered a recall to the Oranje squad.

20130601 - Louis van Gaal

Van Gaal backed up his decision to omit the Galatasaray midfielder from his initial squad for next week’s friendly against Portugal by also leaving him out of his trimmed party today.

Sneijder was immediately vocal on his dissatisfaction at Van Gaal’s decision last week in the media but the coach unmoved. In a press conference yesterday, he said: “He is not out of sight, but he must first get in shape. Then he will probably play with his qualities.”

Augsburg full-back Paul Verhaegh (pictured above) has been confirmed in the squad as he survived the cut to take his spot for the first time. Stijn Schaars and Georginio Wijnaldum, neither of whom were included by Van Gaal last week also join him.

PSV’s Adam Maher, Ajax pair Siem de Jong and Ricardo van Rhijn, and Feyenoord duo Jordy Clasie and Tonny Vilhena have dropped out for the clash in Faro next Wednesday.

Oranje squad to play Portugal on Wednesday 14th August

Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Kenneth Vermeer (Ajax), Michel Vorm (Swansea City)

Defenders: Danny Blind (Ajax), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Joris Mathijsen (Feyenoord), Paul Verhaegh (Augsburg), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord)

Midfielders: Marco Van Ginkel (Chelsea), Jonathan De Guzman (Swansea City), Stijn Schaars (PSV Eindhoven), Ruben Schaken (Feyenoord), Kevin Strootman (AS Roma), Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven)

Forwards: Klass-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbache), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)



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FRIENDLY: Oranje easily crack ten-men China


NETHERLANDS 2 (Van Persie 11, Snejder 66)

The Oranje strolled to a 2-0 win at ease against ten-man China in their second leg of the Far East tour.

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie’s early penalty and a delightful goal by Wesley Sneijder were enough for Louis van Gaal’s men to proceed their win over Indonesia on Friday.

Robin van Persie and teammates celebrate the opening goal

China played some good football in parts and particularly as they played almost 80 minutes a man down following Qin Sheng’s 12th minute dismissal. The Dutch were a constant threat and after Zheng Zhi missing a glorious headed chance for China, the visitors took the lead in just 11 minutes.

PSV attacker Jeremain Lens cut the ball back to Arjen Robben, who was taken down in the penalty area by Zhang Lin Peng and RVP slammed the spot-kick home, with goalkeeper Zeng Cheng diving the wrong way.

The sending off came soon after as Qin’s eighth international appearance ended in the 13th minute, the midfielder dismissed for a studs-up lunge at Swansea City midfielder Jonathan De Guzman. The referee made no hesitations and showed the Chinese talisman the red card.

The Dutch missed some chances of their own, Robben firing into the side-netting before Van Persie glanced Lens’ superb cross wide when he should have scored. China’s last opportunity before half-time was wasted by Zheng’s woeful free-kick and the whistle went for the break with no addition to the score.

Van Gaal sent on Sneijder among the triple substitutions and his team started the second half on the attack, Robben almost immediately hitting the bar. Sneijder and Lens shot wide and Van Persie saw one effort saved by Zeng before sending another over the top from close range.

Half of the stadium thought China had grabbed a shock equaliser when Yu Hanchao’s low shot, following neat build-up play, went through Erik Pieters’ legs and wriggled under goalkeeper Michel Vorm’s hand but the Swansea City number one recovered to scrape it away.

Sneijder made it 2-0, though, with a skilful backheel after combining with Van Persie and Robben to create the chance. Dirk Kuyt came on and threatened instantly but his weak shot was saved comfortably by Zeng.

There was no more goals but Feng Xiaoting escaped conceding a penalty after losing possession and tangling with Kuyt, who appeared to unbalance himself by unintentionally kicking the defender’s leg.

Another win for the Dutch which wraps up the tour of Asia and now the players can finally hit the beaches for a well deserved break before they travel to Estonia on 6th September in a World Cup qualifier.



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FRIENDLY: Dutch struggle to defeat Indonesia


NETHERLANDS 3 (de Jong 57, 67, Robben 90)

The Oranje began their tour of Asia with a 3-0 win over Indonesia in a packed stadium in Jakarta.

It was a lethargic start for Louis van Gaal’s side whom picked their game up in the second half to earn a 3-0 victory with Siem de Jong bagging two of the goals.

The Dutch almost got off to a perfect start in their first attack but Wesley Sneijder was deemed offside after finding the net.

Having survived that initial scare, the hard-working Indonesia settled in nicely. They kept the dangerous Dutch attack out from creating opportunities. The hosts’ goalkeeper Kurnia Meiga, kept Holland at bay with every first-half chance that was generated got handled with relative ease.

Jeremain Lens suffered an early injury and was replaced

The Dutch were hampered with the injury of PSV’s Jeremain Lens. The wide striker picked up a knock and was replaced by Arjen Robben after just 14 minutes. He is a doubt for the next friendly against China.

Van Gaal modified the team at half-time which included the exit of Van Persie, which seemed to spark the favourites and in turn, his team finally grabbed the lead just before the hour.

In the 57th minute a De Jong header from the goal after some excellent work from Feyenoord’s Ruben Schaken. The winger did well to track down a loose ball and delivered a pinpoint cross, which de Jong directed back across goal and Meiga was unable to stop it. This was the Ajax man’s first international goal for Oranje.

De Jong grabbed his second goal ten minutes later finishing a lovely move by the Dutch. The impressive Robben sent it a curling cross and Schaken flicked onto De Jong to head home again.

Robben added a third in the final minute before injury time to make the scoreline look a lot like the display that was except from the Netherlands. That being said, apart from the Lens injury, the Oranje will be happy to take their victory onto China for the next leg of the Asian tour.



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