Dutch World Cup woes deepen after Van Gaal hurts hip

The Orange could miss out on mega event if they lose to Norway and Turkey beat Montenegro in Group G matches

AFP November 16, 2021


The Dutch campaign to qualify for next year's World Cup suffered another blow after coach Louis van Gaal fell and injured his hip after a training session.

But although admitting he was "in a lot of pain", both the  bullish Dutch coach and team captain Virgil van Dijk insisted that van Gaal's injury would not affect Tuesday night's crucial Wold Cup qualifier game against Norway.

Van Gaal, 70, was cycling to his hotel after a training session Sunday when the accident happened.

"Van Gaal was parking his bicycle at the hotel when he slipped and landed on his hip," Van Dijk told an online press conference.

"He went to the hospital to have a check-up. We're very happy that he's still with us and that he can lead us on Tuesday evening," Van Dijk said.

Speaking from his hotel room, Van Gaal told reporters he was "in a lot of pain, that's why I'm here in a wheelchair and that's why I went to training in a buggy."

Pictures showed Van Gaal, sometimes nicknamed the "Iron Tulip" for his no-nonsense approach to coaching, arriving at Monday's training session in a golf cart.

"I can still do everything. My brain is working and I have a lot of resources at my disposal," said Van Gaal.

Van Gaal's injury is the latest blow in the Netherlands' quest to get to Qatar.

The team captained by Liverpool central defender Virgil van Dijk squandered a 2-0 lead on Saturday against Montenegro after the hosts equalised with two goals in the last 10 minutes of the game, robbing the Dutch of a guaranteed ticket to Qatar.

"We have to think more about our game and how to play clever," especially when ahead, Van Dijk said in the aftermath of the draw.

"It's all good when things go your way... but you also have to think what happens when you lose the ball," and have players who can defend from that position, he said.

Van Gaal said he expected a "positive Norway, while we have to absorb the disappointment two days ago and put it behind us."

The Dutch still head Group G but are just two points ahead of Turkey, who thrashed Gibraltar 6-0 on Sunday.

The Orange face Norway in Rotterdam on Tuesday in the final round of matches while Turkey travel to Montenegro.

If the Dutch beat Norway, they will be assured of a place in Qatar and even a draw could see them through, but they could be eliminated if they lose, missing out on a second successive World Cup finals.


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