Hello my friends, and my apologies for being so shy, the last weeks.
As you have seen, I was traveling and meeting up with these phenomenal people… And it’s not over. The coming week I’ll be globetrotting some more, but after that I hope to get back to my normal rhythm with fantastic stories and interviews awaiting ( Sneijder, Huntelaar, Douglas, Robben, etc etc….).
For now, let’s look at the two next games for Oranje, against Andorra and Romania.
Rafa van der Vaart, Nigel de Jong and Ibi Afellay are part of the squad again.
Gregory van der Wiel however, is still not part of the Oranje squad.
Ruben Schaken makes his debut in the squad, with Ken Vermeer, the Ajax goalie, and Twente defender Douglas is new as well. PSV full back Jetro Willems had to cancel, as he is struggling with a muscle injury.
Other players LVG is missing are Wes Sneijder, Tim Krul, Leroy Fer, Bas Dost and Stefan de Vrij. Joris Mathijsen and Arjen Robben are not available for Andorra but might both be available for the Romania. Van Gaal: “Mathijsen’s presence against Romania is more likely than Robben’s…”
Louis van Gaal has graciously allowed Adam Maher, Jordy Clasie and Luuk de Jong to play two key games with the under 21, in their quest to for EC qualifications (Slovenia).
Douglas Franco Teixeira didn’t know how to express his wonder when he finally made it into the Dutch team.
“I am soooo happy,” the Brazilian born stuttered. “This is a remarkable day. Very special.”
The 24 year old Twente defender was called at long last on Monday. “I immediately called my mum and drove to Noordwijk. I have waited so long for this. I have spent 3 years focusing on becoming a citizen here. I didn’t know a thing when I first came here and now I feel Dutch.”
As Van Gaal had to miss De Vrij and Mathijsen in defence, he decided to call up the Twente center back.
“I realise I still need to find my spot. But this is a chance. And I will do my best to cease it. I want to aim for the highest possible and playing a World Cup with Holland is exactly that. And it’s extra special with the WC in Brazil! But I need to prove myself now. I spoke to the coach and he said: simply do what you always do and try to improve yourself every day!”.
Using 2 ADO Den Haag players as stand ins for practice, the former Bayern coach is making sure his squad is ready for action. Jeremain Lens, the striker in form for PSV, is loudly applauded when he makes the right decision while Feyenoord winger Ruben Schaken is yelled at when we does something good (“Yes Schaken!! Now you get it!!!”)
As Wes Sneijder ( now absent due to injury) will say in a to-be-posted interview: “The vibe in the Oranje squad has always been good. Even at the disastrous Euros, it was quite good….”…..
Wesley Sneijder visited the Oranje squad to have lunch with the lads and to implore them to win the two games without him. He is on his way to the US where a special treatment is awaiting him for the muscle injury he has. Inter believes Sneijder is out for 4 weeks but the little big man expects to be back earlier…
Robin van Persie said it in one sentence: “We all hope on a San Marino score against Andorra and a win against Romania. I think we make a big step towards Brazil if we manage to do this…”
And so it is. The last time Oranje played San Marino, the Philips Stadium saw 11 goals. The biggest win of Oranje ever!
It seems that this Romania game is now the toughest game in the group, now Oranje has beaten Turkey at home. The away game against Turkey is the last in the series and most likely the cards will have been dealt by then.
It’s quite likely that Van Gaal will use two different line ups for the games. The away game in Romania will be played in front of 50,000 passionate fans and will be quite a different assignment than the Andorra challenge. It’s very likely that Huntelaar will lead the line in search of goals against Andorra, with a fresh and fit Van Persie doing this against Romania.
Quite remarkably, all players in the Oranje squad played as starters in this weekend’s competition games, with Heitinga playing the briefest (45 minutes).
30 year old Ruben Schaken acted like a kid in the toy-store with Oranje. The late blooming Feyenoord winger enjoyed his youth development at Ajax in the 1990s. “I was ball boy in the mid 90s, when Louis van Gaal was enjoying all that success. And assistant coach Pat Kluivert was my all time idol in those days… Hahaha….but don’t tell them!”.
Being team manager is a risky job. Last month, Van Gaal was able to escape the rugby tackle of Martins Indi, this week Jeremain Lens hit a ball straight at LVG’s head. The coach dropped his whistle while blocking his face but didn’t respond or stop practice. He was constantly commenting on the action, loudly. “Yes, Lens… NICE!”…. “Good Lens, you get it…”
The 24 year old former Ajax prospect is in top form. He scored another goal and had 3 assists last weekend but his game against Hungary last month in the orange jersey was even more impressive. Lens: “Yes, I’m doing ok, but the key is to keep on playing at this level.”
Lens can play center striker, winger and even attacking midfielder. “Yes, I don’t mind where I play. But if it’s up to me, I’d like to play centrally. But even on the wing, left or right… I don’t mind.”
He does understand that the central striker position is safely in the feet of RVP and Klaas Jan Huntelaar. “Haha, yes…tough competition…. I need to concentrate on the wings. I hear Arjen isn’t playing against Andorra, so who knows…”
Lens was on the stands a lot under Van Marwijk and wasn’t even first choice at PSV last season. He had wonderful spells and periods of total clumsiness. “I wasn’t consistent. I had lesser phases for sure. But Van Gaal knows me from AZ and he told me clearly what he wants me to focus on. I need to work on my heading and my left foot. The fun thing is that I scored with my head against Hungary, haha…”
The pic below was taken at Ajax-Real Madrid by yours truly… 🙂