Advocaat returns as Netherlands coach
AMSTERDAM: Veteran coach Dick Advocaat is returning to the Dutch national team aiming to kick them into shape fast and save the country’s World Cup hopes, football federation officials announced yesterday.
Advocaat, 69, will return for a third stint in charge of the team, taking over from Danny Blind, sacked in March after the Dutch were felled 2-0 by Bulgaria.
The shock defeat has left the once proud Dutch clinging to only the slimmest of hopes of reaching the World Cup finals in Russia.
Advocaat, currently at Turkish club Fenerbahce, will be joined by former Dutch star Ruud Gullit as assistant coach.
It was “a short term” strategy, admitted KNVB federation’s technical director Hans van Breukelen to reporters, adding it was “just to qualify for the World Cup.”
“I welcome the appointments of Advocaat and Gullit,” van Breukelen said at a press conference. “There were two scenarios. We opt for the longer term or we do everything that is possible to get to the 2018 World Cup. We chose the second scenario. It had to be a very experienced professional, preferably an authority.”
Advocaat previously managed the national side from 1992 to 1994 and 2002 to 2004.
Known as “The Little General,” Advocaat won praise in 2015 for saving Sunderland from relegation from the English Premier League.
The Netherlands, three-time World Cup runners-up, have endured a tough time in recent years, failing to qualify for Euro 2016 in France and now facing the prospect of being a humiliating World Cup no-show.
The defeat in Sofia left the side fourth in qualifying group A, trailing six points behind leaders France.
The Dutch team’s next qualifying match is on June 9 against Luxembourg. It first faces two upcoming friendlies, against Morocco on May 31 and the Ivory Coast on June 4.
Advocaat is under contract until June 1 with the Turkish club, but should be allowed to join the Dutch for the friendly against Morocco, Breukelen told a press conference. AFP