Ad­vo­caat returns as Nether­lands coach

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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

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