Dutch call back Advocaat for World Cup rescue mission

By Samindra Kunti

May 10 – The Dutch FA, the KNVB, have named Dick Advocaat as the Netherlands’s new coach. Advocaat will take Oranje’s reigns for a third time, with Ruud Gullit set to become his assistant.

After a protracted search for a new coach the Dutch FA confirmed Advocaat’s appointment at a press conference at their headquarters in Zeist. In March Danny Blind was dismissed after the Netherlands had failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and after a  string of disappointing results in their World Cup qualification campaign.

The end came for Blind after Holland succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against Bulgaria in Sofia with youngster Matthijs De Ligt committing two grave defensive errors. The Netherlands have suffered two defeats in Group A and face an uphill struggle to reach Russia 2018. They sit fourth, six points behind authoritative leaders France.

Blind’s departure sparked a search for a new coach. Plenty of names were in the frame, including Everton’s Ronald Koeman and Louis Van Gaal, but the KNVB struggled to attract a new coach.

“There were two scenarios,” said the KNVB’s technical director Hans van Breukelen. “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.”

The final three candidates on the Dutch FA’s list were all Dutchmen: Advocaat, Huub Stevens and Henk ten Cate. The latter, who is coaching Al Jazira in the United Arab Emirates, believed that he had been promised the role.

“The moment Fred Rutten dropped out of contention as assistant, it was clear that Henk ten Cate would not be (head coach),” clarified van Breukelen. “I’ve never been to Ten Cate and said he would be coach. I was surprised by his press statement.”

Advocaat will join the national team once the Turkish club season concludes. He has had two previous stints as Holland coach, 1992-94 and 2002-04, and three as assistant, most recently last year. Gullit will assist Advocaat. The 54‑year‑old won the last five of his 66 Holland caps towards the end of Advocaat’s first tenure. A dispute over tactics ended Gullit’s career just before the USA 94 World Cup.

Advocaat has twice led Holland to the quarter-finals of a major tournament. At USA 94, they were knocked out by Brazil and Branco’s swerving freekick. In Portugal, at Euro 2004, they faltered against the hosts and a young Cristiano Ronaldo. The Dutchman has also had coaching stints at Rangers, Sunderland and PSV Eindhoven and with the national teams of the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Belgium, Russia and Serbia.

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