Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 8th 2015 Contents A55
Tuesday, September 8, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
THE HAGUE---The same Netherlands team
that humiliated Spain early in last year s
World Cup is fading---and fading fast.
After losses to Turkey and Iceland over
the last few days, the Dutch are on the brink
of missing out on next year s European
Championship in France---a tournament
expanded to accommodate 24 teams.
The Netherlands lineup that lost to Iceland
1-0 at home on Thursday and then 3-0 at
Turkey on Sunday is virtually unchanged
from the one that overwhelmingly defeated
the defending World Cup champions 5-1
last year in Brazil and ended up finishing
"This whole qualification campaign has
been incredibly difficult," Netherlands striker
Robin van Persie said after the loss in Turkey.
"We still have a chance, but it is no longer
in our hands and that is terrible."
These days, the 1988 European champions
and three-time World Cup finalists are strug-
gling to find the net against all but the weak-
est opponents. The team is even more inept
at defending its own goal.
A tight defence was the foundation of the
Netherlands success in Brazil---apart from
two penalty shootouts, the team conceded
only four goals in seven matches at the World
Cup. In eight Euro 2016 qualifiers, the Dutch
have already allowed 10 goals.
Even Johan Cruyff, a passionate advocate
of attacking soccer, has been left lamenting
the lack of quality at the back.
In his column in Monday s edition of
Dutch daily De Telegraaf, the former Nether-
lands great pointed to the penalty given away
by defender Gregory van der Wiel that hand-
ed Iceland victory in Amsterdam as symp-
tomatic of poor Dutch defending.
The long-term knee injury that sidelined
centre back Ron Vlaar has been a key prob-
lem in defense, just as Arjen Robben s injury-
hit season undermined attacking options.
Both players were standouts of the World
But more than any individual absences,
the Netherlands team spirit appears to be
"In Oranje, there are a number of players
who are only concerned about themselves,"
former Netherlands player Willem van
Hanegem wrote in his Monday column in
the Algemeen Dagblad daily newspaper.
He singled out Memphis for criticism.
"He only lay on the ground," Van Hanegem
wrote, overlooking the fact that the Man-
chester United winger supplied a number
of crosses from the left that could ---should---
have led to Dutch goals.
The misfiring Memphis, out-of-form Van
Persie and often-injured Robben have con-
tributed to a shocking attacking impotence
against all but the lowliest teams in Group
A.The Dutch have scored 11 goals in three
matches against Kazakhstan and Latvia, but
only two in five matches against Iceland,
the Czech Republic and Turkey, the teams
now above them in the group.
Many are blaming the coaching staff.
After his World Cup campaign, Louis van
Gaal---known for ruling his teams with an
iron fis---moved to Manchester United and
was replaced by Guus Hiddink, an experi-
enced and highly successful coach known
for a more hands-off relationship with play-
ers.But Hiddink s approach backfired imme-
diately. In his first match in charge, a friendly
against Italy, the Dutch conceded two early
goals and lost 2-0, setting the tone for a
short and unsuccessful second stint in charge.
Hiddink repeatedly saw his team give away
early goals and then struggle to recover. His
contract was soon terminated.
Danny Blind---with two losses in his first
two matches since replacing Hiddink---has
not been able to overturn the slide. He now
has to rely on Turkey dropping points in its
last two matches for the Dutch to stand any
chance of securing third place in Group A
and a playoff berth.
MANCHESTER---Prince Ali bin
al-Hussein gave a strong indi-
cation yesterday that he would
be standing for the Fifa pres-
"If the election is done cor-
rectly, cleanly and properly, I
believe I can win," the prince
said at the SoccerEx confer-
The Jordanian surprisingly
denied Sepp Blatter a majority
in the first round of voting in
May but stepped aside before
the second round.
Blatter, though, announced
his plans to quit four days later
as separate US and Swiss crim-
inal inquiries into soccer cor-
The deadline for Prince Ali
and other candidates to gain
the five required nominations
from federations to stand in the
February election is October 26.
"I am talking to national
associations and listening to
their opinions," the prince said.
"Right now we need a candidate
who is forward thinking, with
new ideas who is not tainted
by the past."
The appearance by the prince
in front of global football exec-
utives on Monday was the first
of three planned speaking
engagements this week in
Britain where he launched his
manifesto for the May election.
The former Fifa vice president
said favourite Michel Platini is
the wrong person for the job,
given that the UEFA president
helped Blatter first get elected
in 1998. The prince is turning
on Platini despite the former
France great being his key sup-
porter before the May election.
"Fifa is in a crisis right now
and we need a new beginning,"
the prince said. "Michel Platini s
introduction into football gov-
ernance was as a protege of
Sepp Blatter, that s a reality."
The prince said Fifa requires
a candidate who "really believes
in reform and true transparency,
not as a slogan because that is
very fashionable right now."
Expanding on what trans-
parency should look like at Fifa
headquarters in Zurich, the
prince told delegates: "You take
the locks off the doors and open
the windows. There is no need
Blatter is entering the final
months of his curtailed fifth
term and the prince said the
79-year-old president has some
responsibility for the current
corruption crisis despite not
being directly implicated.
"He should have stepped
down a while ago if he had the
best interests of football," the
Fourteen officials have been
indicted by US authorities as
part of a wide-ranging inves-
tigation into bribery and finan-
cial wrongdoing, including some
of Prince Ali s former Fifa exec-
utive committee colleagues.
MOSCOW---Luxembourg s European champi-
onship qualifying game against Belarus may be
called off after 16 of its players were struck
down with food poisoning.
Luxembourg Football Federation spokesman
Marc Diederich told The Associated Press yes-
terday that the players suffered "terrible stomach
aches" and spent hours in the bathroom after
eating a meal of spaghetti bolognaise Sunday
evening at the team s hotel in the Belarusian
The players were struck down almost simul-
taneously in the early hours of the morning and
team doctors treated them with medicine and
electrolytes, although none required hospital
With 16 of the 20 players in the squad affected,
"we are in close contact with UEFA" about pos-
sibly rearranging Tuesday s Group C game and
a decision is expected Tuesday, he added.
However, all of the players took to the pitch
at the Borisov Arena for a training session Monday
"Some are a little bit ill still, but they try to
train, see what their body does," Diederich said.
"It seems like they could play if something else
doesn t happen again in the night."
The Belarusian team expects to play Tuesday
after consulting UEFA s match delegate.
"According to the info from the delegate, no
postponing of the game," Belarusian Football Fed-
eration spokesman Alexander Aleinik said by
UEFA said in an emailed statement that "we
are aware of this issue. As it stands, the game
will go ahead as scheduled."
The food poisoning came a day after Luxem-
bourg celebrated a rare competitive win, beating
Macedonia 1-0 at home on Saturday. Belarus and
Luxembourg are fourth and fifth respectively in
Group C, both with four points from seven games.
Neither can qualify for next year s tournament.
Also yesterday, Belarusian newspaper Brestsky
Kurier reported that 12 people from a Croatian
handball club had been hospitalised in another
suspected food poisoning incident in Belarus
western city of Brest. That case followed Croatian
team PPD Zagreb s win over Meshkov Brest in
the regional SEHA League on Sunday.
DORTMUND---Borussia Dortmund and Poland
defender Lukasz Piszczek has been ruled out
for about 10 days with a groin injury.
The Bundesliga club says Piszczek suffered a
"muscle strain in the adductor area" during
Poland s 3-1 defeat to Germany in a European
Championship qualifier on Friday.
Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick
Aubameyang also returned ahead of schedule
from international duty. The Gabon international
suffered an apparent light ankle injury in his
country s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against
Sudan. There was no immediate confirmation of
the extent of the injury.
Germany attacking midfielder Marco Reus,
who was recovering from a hairline fracture in
his foot, says on the club Web site, "I m confident
that I can play for Dortmund again after a couple
of days rest."
by food poisoning
suffers groin injury
Dutch defeats leave
Prince Ali believes he can take Blatter's post
In this file photo Fifa vice president Jordan's Prince Ali bin al-
Hussein attends a press conference for the launch of his Fifa
presidency campaign, in London, to challenge Sepp Blatter for the
Fifa Presidency in May 2015 elections. AP PHOTO
Robin Van Persie of Netherlands reacts
after they lost 3-0 against Turkey during
their Euro 2016 Group A qualifying soccer
match between Turkey and the Netherlands
at the Buyuksehir Torku Arena Stadium in
Konya, Turkey, Sunday. AP PHOTO
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