Orange alert for Netherlands

2014-10-14 15:21
Guus Hiddink (File)

The Hague - The Netherlands, who finished third at the 2014 World Cup in July, are off to a woeful start to their Euro 2016 qualification campaign as coach Guus Hiddink feels the heat after picking up three points from three matches.

The 67-year-old, who led the Dutch to the 1998 World Cup semi-finals in his first stint at the helm of his native country, and repeated the feat four years later with South Korea, is the man in the hot-seat after a shock 2-0 reverse in Iceland on Monday.

"It's finished for Hiddink, it's time to leave the position to a younger coach," blasted Ajax coach and former international defender Frank de Boer in the aftermath of the Iceland shocker.

Hiddink, who has also had spells as national coach of Australia, Russia and Turkey as well as Real Madrid, Chelsea and PSV Eindhoven at club level, got off to the worst possible start when Holland were beaten 2-1 by the Czech Republic in their opening qualifier.

A come-from-behind 3-1 victory, over a Kazakhstan side ranked 127 in the world, steadied the ship briefly, before Iceland, who have never qualified for a major tournament, upset the form book in Reykjavik.

Iceland and the Czech Republic hold the top two spots and automatic qualification on nine points from three matches, the Dutch are on three with Latvia (2), Kazakhstan (1) and Turkey (1) bringing up the rear in Group A.

"We are playing without any direction," continued De Boer, who played under Hiddink at the 1998 World Cup and won 112 caps as a player.

"The ball is being played to (Arjen) Robben and (Robin) van Persie and then they have to do it on their own, but Robben is isolated up front and there is noone to help him." added De Boer who said he "never understood the appointment of Hiddink".

Hiddink, took over from Louis van Gaal who is now in charge of Manchester United after leading the Dutch to the World Cup semi-finals where they were narrowly beaten by Argentina.

A number of players have also come under the microscope of scrutiny, notably the defenders Stefaan de Vrij of Lazio and Porto's Bruno Martins, while playmakers Wesley Sneijder of Galatasaray and Ibrahim Affelay of Olympiakos have been labelled "slow and lacking imagination".

The Dutch have regularly endured internal problems in the past and the relationship between United's van Persie and Schalke marksman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is frosty at best, adding to discontentment within the squad.

Bayern Munich star Robben is one of Hiddink's supporters and believes the coach should not be blamed for the team's sudden loss of form after switching to a 4-3-3 formation from the 5-3-2 line-up used by van Gaal.

"Forget about the World Cup and stop talking about the 5-3-2, the problem is not tactics," said Robben.

"The problem is our mentality and people must stop believing we are good, because in reality we are not good."

"For Euro 2016, it is not too late but there are reasons to be worried however and we have a difficult trip to Turkey." concluded Robben.

The Netherlands host Latvia in their next match on November 16, the same night Iceland travel to the Czech Republic.

There is then a winter break until qualifying resumes on March 28 next year.

Read more on:    euro 2016  |  guus hiddink  |  soccer

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