By Samindra Kunti
June 9 – Dick Advocaat begins his third reign as Netherlands coach with the mission of taking Oranje to the World Cup in Russia. Holland lie in fourth position in their World Cup qualification group and play Luxembourg on Friday.
Advocaat has a near mission impossible with France topping group A on 13 points, Sweden in second place with ten points and Bulgaria in third on nine points. His team have a meagre seven points.
Holland have had a sluggish campaign so far, losing to France at home and in Bulgaria. Only the group winner is guaranteed a World Cup berth. Second place could earn the team a playoff spot.
Advocaat, who succeeds Danny Blind, believes he can get the struggling Dutch to next year’s World Cup in Russia. “It is a fantastic job, a fantastic challenge,” said an upbeat Advocaat. “Difficult, but definitely possible.”
The Dutch FA appointed Advocaat and his new assistant Ruud Gullit with the explicit goal of leading Holland to the 2018 World Cup after missing out on Euro 2016. If Advocaat is a short-term appointment, the 69-year-old has the experience of coaching national teams. He previously led Russia, Belgium and Serbia. The Dutchman was also a club coach at PSV Eindhoven, Glasgow Rangers, Zenit St Petersburg and Sunderland.
On Sunday Holland defeated Ivory Coast 5-0 in a friendly in Rotterdam. Advocaat wasn’t on Oranje’s bench yet as he was wrapping up the season with his Turkish club Fenerbahçe. Interim coach Fred Frim did field a team according to Advocaat’s instructions, according to media reports.
Against Luxembourg, also at the De Kuip in Rotterdam, Wesley Sneijder will start, meaning the veteran midfielder will celebrate his 33rd birthday by becoming the Netherlands’ most-capped player, eclipsing the record of 130 international matches he currently shares with former goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
Holland are expected to win against the Benelux minnows. In summer Advocaat will face his first big test when the Netherlands travel to Paris to play France before they host Bulgaria in Amsterdam.
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