Hiddink rolls with the punches

2015-03-30 20:44
Guus Hiddink (AFP)

Noordwijk - Guus Hiddink has joked he needs a bullet-proof vest to deal with the brickbats directed at him after an uninspiring start to life as Netherlands coach.

Hiddink took over from Louis van Gaal following last year's World Cup but the Dutch have underwhelmed during his tenure.

They are languishing in third place in their Euro 2016 qualifying group after just two wins from their five games so far.

The latest disappointment saw them draw 1-1 at home to Turkey on Saturday.

Asked how he would deal with the negative reaction, Hiddink was in jovial form on Monday.

"I've put my bullet-proof vest on," he joked.

"To tell the truth, I haven't really read the papers.

"I had training to prepare ahead of tomorrow's (Tuesday's) match (against Spain).

"I have paid attention to the shots directed at me. The media are very good at manipulating public opinion."

Halfway through Euro qualifying, the Dutch trail Iceland in the second automatic qualifying place by five points, while they are only two points ahead of Turkey in the battle for third place and a play-off spot.

Next up is a friendly against Spain and Hiddink is wary that the Roja will be out for revenge after they were humiliated 5-1 by the Netherlands at the World Cup, a result which helped ensure the then reigning champions went home after the group stages.

"The Spanish will want revenge and will want to erase the memory of that World Cup defeat in Brazil," said Hiddink.

"It will therefore be a difficult match but one that will allow me to experiment.

"Because the crucial match will be the one against Latvia in June."

He added: "I was very disappointed with our defeat in the first match against the Czech Republic because I know from experience that the first match affects the rest.

"When you start well, on the whole good results follow.

"Here that wasn't the case and we're paying for that."

Read more on:    netherlands  |  euro 2016  |  guus hiddink  |  soccer

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