The Dutch have the quality of champions


DOHA: Three-time World Cup runners-up, the Netherlands are ready to end their long wait to lift the trophy for the first time with the return of experienced manager Louis Van Gaal.

Van Gaal, 71, who came out of retirement after a successful battle with prostate cancer was only able to watch the Netherlands excel during the qualifying round in November last year in a wheelchair due to radiotherapy treatment.

Therefore, the veteran operator will put his faith in the strong defender, Virgil van Dijk, who will make his debut in the tournament.

Van Dijk was not selected by Van Gaal for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, while the 2020 European Championship (Euro) saw the Liverpool star sidelined due to injury. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL).

LOUIS Van Gaal (second, right) talks to Dutch striker Cody Gakpo in training yesterday. – AFP

“We have to trust and show confidence in the quality that this team has.

“We have an experienced and great manager, we also have players who have played at the highest level, either with the national squad or club level,” explained Van Dijk.

The Netherlands went through a dark period a few years ago when they failed to qualify for Euro 2016, followed by the same script during the 2018 World Cup, and then an early exit at Euro 2020.

However, since Van Gaal was appointed again in 2021, Orange turned into a different team and were unbeaten in 15 games.

Van Dijk, who was once the most expensive defender signed by Liverpool in 2018, has the opportunity to ensure that the Netherlands will not be whitewashed in the World Cup this time.

Good news for the Netherlands ahead of their first match in Group A today, Senegal are now without sensational striker Sadio Mane.

“It will be a big game against the African champions, and I sympathize that he (Mane) will miss this game,” said Van Dijk. -AGENCIES





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