Van Gaal expects USA to pose tough test for lukewarm Oranje
Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal has said he will not underestimate the USA ahead of the two countries’ World Cup round of 16 clash on Saturday.
The Americans went through as runners-up in Group B after beating Iran 1-0 on Tuesday evening, a few hours after Oranje had qualified with their 2-0 win against Qatar.
The United States have scored just twice in three group games and drew their previous matches against Wales (1-1) and England (0-0), but Van Gaal expects them to pose problems.
‘I know from experience that matches against countries like the USA and Australia, who we played in the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, are always very difficult,’ said Van Gaal. ‘They work very hard and they’re good on the ball.’
The USA had a scare when midfielder Christian Pulisic injured himself in the act of scoring against Iran in the 38th minute. The Chelsea player was substituted at half-time and taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a pelvic contusion, but has insisted he will be fit for Saturday.
Dutch media were underwhelmed by Oranje’s 2-0 win over Qatar, with the Telegraaf describing the team’s performance as ‘sleepwalking’ while the Volkskrant complained of a ‘bone dry’ playing style. But they were encouraged by the form of Cody Gakpo, who has scored in each of the group games, and the solid defence.
Sports minister Conny Helder was criticised for declining to wear a OneLove armband to the match, instead opting for a pin which was partly concealed by her orange scarf. ‘I thought it was the most sensible thing to do for this game,’ she said.
D66 MP Jeanet van der Laan was disappointed by the minister’s choice. ‘It’s not a statement,’ she said. ‘Diplomacy is also about using symbols that have an effect, and then wearing a scarf with “never mind” on it? Well …’
Dutch gay rights organisation COC Nederland described the gesture as ‘pretty weak’, while Amnesty International called on the minister to voice her support for a fund for migrant workers, women’s rights and LGBT+ rights.
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