Skip to main content
Best News Website or Mobile Service
WAN-IFRA Digital Media Awards Worldwide
Best News Website or Mobile Service
Digital Media Awards Worldwide
Hamburger Menu




Dutch take winning form into Qatar as legitimate contenders

Dutch take winning form into Qatar as legitimate contenders

Netherlands players pose for a team group photo before the match on Sep 25, 2022. (File photo: Reuters/Piroschka Van De Wouw)

The Netherlands have legitimate hopes of turning their status as World Cup nearly men into champions as they take a 15-match unbeaten run into the Qatar finals and pin their hopes on the wily ways of veteran coach Louis van Gaal.

The Dutch have been runners-up three times and, although they missed out on the last tournament in Russia four years ago, are one of the form teams going into 2022 finals, with high hopes of turning silver onto gold.

They have been paired with hosts Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal in Group A and kick off their campaign against the African side in Doha on Nov 21.

The Netherlands topped their World Cup qualifying group and then finished first in their Nations League group as the return of Van Gaal breathed new life into their fortunes.

Bellicose, belligerent and pompous, he has fallen on his face in the past, like at Barcelona and Manchester United, but there is no disputing his success with the Dutch national team.

This is his third spell in charge after the Dutch FA quickly turned to him to take over when they were eliminated by the Czech Republic at the last European Championship.

They have not lost since, renewing confidence in the team after the barren patch that followed Van Gaal's previous spell when they finished third at the 2014 finals in Brazil.

There he proved himself innovative and intuitive, shocking the Dutch football community by ditching the sacrosanct 4-3-3 approach in favour of using wingbacks.

There was an outcry when he first suggested it, in a nation besotted by tactics and formations and deeply convinced about the 'Dutch way' of playing attacking football.

But Van Gaal ignored the detractors and was proved right as he took his side through to the semi-finals.

He is set to do it again, even if there has been little time to work on the 'new' system with the current crop of players. This time the chorus of disapproval has been muted such is the credit Van Gaal has amassed.

At 71, and undergoing treatment for cancer, this is his last chance for World Cup glory and Van Gaal has made it clear he and his side are aiming to win. His players believe so too.

“We are going to Qatar with a lot of confidence,” said skipper Virgil van Dijk after they beat Belgium in their last outing in September.

Source: Reuters/st


Also worth reading