Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk has effectively ended the international career of veteran striker Ruud van Nistelrooy after omitting him from the 30-man preliminary World Cup squad.
The former Manchester United forward had previously retired from international football following Euro 2008, but he had a change of heart and hoped to get back into the team for FIFA’s flagship event in South Africa. The 33-year-old has been on loan to Hamburg from Real Madrid in a bid to prove his fitness as well as play first team football, but van Marwijk seems unconvinced and is worried about the player’s past injury woes. The Dutch chief said: “I
Van Nistelrooy has been prolific for more or less every club he has played for in his career and had a fairly decent time in Hamburg scoring seven goals in 18 games, he also has 33 goals in 64 international appearances to his name. Whether the Netherlands will miss his experience and goal threat remains to be seen and only time will tell. Another player who will be disappointed on missing out is goalkeeper Piet Velthuizen of Vitesse Arnhem, who misses out in favour of the more experienced stopper Sander Boschker who won the Eredivisie with Steve McClaren’s FC Twente this season. The usual suspects all make the preliminary squad Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Rafael van der Vaart, Mark van Bommel and the skipper Giovanni van Bronckhorst. Premier League fans will also be familiar with the five English-based players in the squad which were Everton’s John Heitinga, Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel, Manchester City’s Nigel de Jong and finally Arsenal hitman Robin van Persie.
The Oranje faithful will hope that Robben and Sneijder do not pick up any knocks when they face-off against each other in the UEFA Champions League final on May 22 and they will also be hoping that the pair bring their fantastic club form into the World Cup next month. Some fans may question the inclusion of Liverpool’s forward Babel, who is undoubtedly a talent, but has failed to make a real impact and impression on Rafa Benitez’s side during his time on Merseyside. However, after his Twitter outbursts and publicly criticizing his boss he has had flashes of brilliance and has insisted that his personal problems are now behind him. Babel’s frustration at Anfield is understandable as he has not been shown a whole lot of faith by his manager at times and is constantly played out of position, or in a system that do not suit his talents. Other surprise inclusion are midfielders Wout Brama and Otman Bakkal, who are fairly inexperienced at international level and even more surprisingly Ajax’s defender Vurnon Anita and AZ attacker Jeremain Lens were both named despite being players who are yet to make their international bows for the Oranje. There were also rumours that former Blackburn and now PSV defender Andre Ooijer will be axed, but he remains in the squad despite many believing that he is past it and somewhat of a liability.
The Netherlands should not be tested too much in World Cup group E, with Cameroon, Denmark and Japan as their opposition, so one would expect them to top the group with the talent they have at their disposal. Also, group F seems quite weak and Italy should top it barring a disaster and the Dutch would be the favourites against any one of New Zealand, Paraguay or Slovakia in the final sixteen. Should they get into the quarter-finals at the business end of the tournament the Oranje will feel that they have enough to upset any of the bigger sides on their day and would have to be at the top of their game as they could potentially be facing the World Cup’s most successful team Brazil.
The Netherlands seem to implode in the majority of tournaments they play in once they have got to a certain stage and van Marwijk will have to keep a close eye on any potential in-fighting and keep a firm check on the temperament of the players to avoid such an implosion. The squad are due to play World Cup warm up games against Mexico on May 26, Ghana June 1 and Hungary June 5, by which time fans will have a better idea of their coach’s thinking.
Provisional 30-man Netherlands squad
Sander Boschker (FC Twente)
Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax)
Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht)
Vurnon Anita (Ajax)
Khalid Boulhahrouz (VfB Stuttgart)
Edson Braafheid (Celtic)
Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord)
John Heitinga (Everton)
Joris Mathijsen (Hamburg)
Andre Ooijer (PSV)
Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord)
Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax.)
Ibrahim Afellay (PSV)
Otman Bakkal (PSV)
Mark van Bommel (Bayern Munich)
Wout Brama (FC Twente)
Orlando Engelaar (PSV)
Nigel de Jong (Manchester City)
David Mendes da Silva (AZ)
Stijn Schaars (AZ)
Wesley Sneijder (Internazionale)
Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid)
Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax.)
Ryan Babel (Liverpool)
Eljero Elia (Hamburg)
Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan)
Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan)
Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool)
Jeremain Lens (AZ)
Robin van Persie (Arsenal)
Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich.)