BLIND SACKED

Nether­lands coach pays the price af­ter hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat to Bul­garia

New Straits Times - - Sport -

AMSTERDAM

DANNY Blind was sacked as Nether­lands coach on Sun­day af­ter a 2-0 de­feat to Bul­garia left the team’s chances of reach­ing the World Cup fi­nals hang­ing by the slen­der­est of threads.

Blind, 55, had been in charge since July 2015, suc­ceed­ing Guus Hid­dink, but Satur­day’s loss in Sofia left the Dutch in fourth place in qual­i­fy­ing Group A, six points be­hind lead­ers France.

Only the group win­ners are guaranteed a place in the 2018 fi­nals in Rus­sia.

Blind said he was sad­dened by the de­ci­sion.

“We were on the right track in Bul­garia, but it’s a pity that it ends like this,” he said.

Blind’s as­sis­tant Fred Grim will take charge of the team for to­day’s friendly against Italy in Amsterdam, the Dutch foot­ball fed­er­a­tion (KNVB) said.

“We (the fed­er­a­tion) have a lot of re­spect for Danny, but due to neg­a­tive re­sults and the dif­fi­culty we have to qual­ify for the 2018 World Cup, we must part com­pany with him,” said the KNVB in a state­ment.

The Nether­lands, three-time World Cup run­ners-up, also failed to qual­ify for Euro 2016.

“To qual­ify for Rus­sia will be very com­pli­cated,” ad­mit­ted star mid­fielder Wes­ley Snei­jder.

The writ­ing was al­ready on the wall for Blind af­ter he was sum­moned to meet the fed­er­a­tion in the af­ter­math of the Bul­gar­ian set­back.

Dutch news­pa­pers pro­nounced the de­feat a “de­ba­cle.”

Fail­ure to qual­ify for Rus­sia next year, on the back of fail­ure to reach the 2016 Euro fi­nals, would be a ma­jor shock for one of the most suc­cess­ful foot­balling na­tions who were World Cup fi­nal­ists as re­cently as 2010 when they lost to Spain. They fin­ished third in 2014 in Brazil.

Nether­lands skip­per Ar­jen Robben said the de­feat in Sofia was a “night­mare.”

“It’s sad. I’m speech­less. The first half was shock­ing,” said the 33-year-old Bay­ern Mu­nich winger.

Bul­garia stunned the Dutch with two goals in the first 20 min­utes, both com­ing from Spas Delev, who opened his in­ter­na­tional ac­count.

The first came from an er­ror by 17-year-old Matthijs De Ligt, Hol­land’s youngest debu­tant since 1931, who mis­judged a pass and al­lowed the striker to slot the ball past Jeroen Zoet.

Blind said he “did not baulk” at the dif­fi­cult choice to se­lect de Ligt, said the fed­er­a­tion.

Af­ter the match Blind ques­tioned whether he was still the man for the job.

“I have to re­flect on whether I am ca­pa­ble of get­ting us out of this jam,” he said. AFP

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