South­gate hails Koe­man’s Dutch rev­o­lu­tion

The Phnom Penh Post - - SPORT - Kieran Can­ning

ENG­LAND man­ager Gareth South­gate lauded Ron­ald Koe­man for his trans­for­ma­tion of the Nether­lands’ for­tunes af­ter the two na­tions were paired to­gether in the semi-fi­nals of the in­au­gu­ral Na­tions League on Mon­day.

The draw in Dublin also pro­duced a meet­ing of host na­tion Por­tu­gal and Switzer­land in the last four for the right to reach the fi­nal on June 9.

As Eng­land were reach­ing the semi-fi­nals of the World Cup in July, the Dutch had to watch from afar af­ter fail­ing to qualify for a sec­ond ma­jor tour­na­ment in a row.

Eng­land won a friendly 1-0 in Koe­man’s first match in charge in Am­s­ter­dam in March, but in his first com­pet­i­tive cam­paign, the Nether­lands beat both world cham­pi­ons France and Ger­many to a place in the last four of the Na­tions League.

“We play a team in Hol­land at a sim­i­lar stage to us, de­vel­op­ing, ex­cit­ing young play­ers and I can see the im­pact Ron­ald has al­ready made with that team,” said South­gate, whose side will face the Dutch in the north­ern Por­tuguese city of Guimaraes on June 6.

Koe­man be­lieves his side’s re­turn to form in re­cent months has re­stored the pride of Dutch fans in their na­tional team af­ter a lean few years.

“It was dif­fi­cult the time when we started with the play­ers. We had two big tour­na­ments we didn’t qualify for. The best com­pli­ment for the play- ers is again the peo­ple in HolHol land are proud of the na­tional team.”

The for­mer Ever- ton man­ager was just as c o m p l i m e n t a r y about South­gate’s im­pact on the Three Li­ons and in par­tic­u­lar his will­ingnes s t o f i e l d young play­ers, some­thing which has t ra­dit i on­ally char­ac­terised Dutch foot­ball.

“We know i t ’s a l wa way y s a b a t t l e be­tween Eng­land and Hol­land. We have a lot of re­spect for the English team and we ha have a lot of play­ers in the Pre­mier Premi League,” said Koe­man. “The way Gareth is man­ag­ing the English team is how we l like [in the Nether­land lands]. He’s giv­ing op­por­tun tu­ni­ties to young player ers.”

How­ever, there could b be dis­ap­point­ment for s some trav­el­ling fans as the Dom Afonso Hen­riqu riques sta­dium in Guimaraes h holds just 30,000 with Engla Eng­land and the Dutch both ex­pected to bring a stron strong sup­port.

The 5 0 , 0 0 0 - c a pac i t y Es­tad Es­ta­dio do Dra­gao in Porto will ho host Por­tu­gal’s meet­ing with S Switzer­land on June 5 and the fi­nal.

“We ar are host­ing this in our coun­try, with our peo­ple, and that brings ex­tra re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said Por­tu­gal coach Fer­nando San­tos.

“We have the dream of get­ting to the fi­nal and win­ning the tro­phy.”

San­tos, though, was coy when ques­tioned if Cris­tiano Ron­aldo would re­turn to his side hav­ing missed all four Na­tions League fix­tures to date.

With the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal just four days be­fore Por­tu­gal’s semi-fi­nal, San­tos hinted that could hin­der his prepa­ra­tion and af­fect any de­ci­sion on Ron­aldo’s par­tic­i­pa­tion.

“These fi­nal games will be de­cided by the play­ers and it is very close to the Cham­pi­ons League and Europa League fi­nals. It may in­flu­ence our prepa­ra­tion.”

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