The Dutch crashed out of football’s biggest festival after losing on penalties to a Messi-inspired Argentina
Head coach Louis van Gaal has attributed a lack of a top attacking player like Nigerian great George Finidi as the reason behind the Netherlands’ crushing loss to Argentina on Friday.
Van Gaal and Finidi worked together at Ajax in the early nineties during which the former Super Eagles star was rated among the world’s best right wingers.
A permanent feature in the Nigerian teams that won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations, Finidi was adjudged one of the best players at the Super Eagles’ debut appearance at the World Cup in the same year.
The following year, Finidi was one of the key players as Ajax, led by Louis van Gaal, became the kings of Europe after lifting the UEFA Champions League.
Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Louis van Gaal reconfigured the Netherlands into a fine attacking force and one of the teams with an outside chance of winning the tournament.
Convinced of the quality players at his disposal in the Dutch camp, Louis van Gaal hoped he could repeat that triumphant 1995 feat and guide the Netherlands to their first-ever World Cup triumph.
But that dream ended dramatically in the quarterfinals in Qatar. Despite pulling off an incredible comeback from a two-goal deficit, the Dutch failed to find the winning goal, eventually losing on penalties to Argentina.
Louis van Gaal believes his squad has ‘a lot of football ability’ but the absence of a game changer from the wings like his former protege, George Finidi, gave Argentina the advantage.
“That’s why we haven’t lost 20 games since we started together last summer. That’s not for nothing,” Louis van Gaal told Parool.
“Only we don’t have a right and left striker like I had at Ajax. No Overmars, no Finidi George. If we play football with wingers, it can only be done in plan B or C. But setting up two long strikers and pumping balls into the 16-meter as quickly as possible, you won’t always do that. You don’t want to play opportunistically all the time.
“You need wingers who (can go) past a man. Our football currently does not have that, not for the very highest level of a World Cup and the battle with top countries. That’s why I started playing differently. And we’ve come a long way. Just not the semi-finals. Out on pings.”
Victory over the Netherlands sends Argentina to the semifinals of the World Cup where they will face Croatia for a place in the final.