De Boer questions Dutch chances

Former Dutch midfielder Ronald de Boer is hopeful but not confident of his homeland lifting their first ever World Cup in Germany.

    Ronald De Boer (r) not confident with current crop

    "I have some major concerns about the side, I think they have a lack of experience and physical presence in the squad and in a tournament like the World Cup you really need those two things," the former Barcelona man told Al Jazeera.

    He also felt his countrymen would have a tough time just getting through their group stage which will see them play fellow Group C sides Argentina, Ivory Coast and Serbia and Montenegro.

    "Holland have definitely found themselves in the toughest group, they will have three very hard matches. Particularly against Argentina and Ivory Coast, who both play a very physical style of football," he said.

    Ronald De Boer: Dutch stats

    World Cups: 1994 & 1998
    Caps: 67
    Goals: 13

    With such physical encounters on the horizon, de Boer was surprised that Marco van Basten, the Dutch coach, opted for just two players with World Cup experience.

    "I was very surprised when I saw the squad and they left out players like Edgar Davids. I think when you are playing games one after another, like we will be, you need some experienced players in the side.

    "The current squad has some great skills but I think it lacks that experience," he said, quickly adding his support for the current coach.


    Key men: Arjen Robben and
    Ruud Van Nistelrooy

    "In saying all this, you have to have respect for Van Basten. His record in qualifying speaks for itself (Holland were undefeated in qualifying). Furthermore, when he speaks, everyone listens.

    "You also know the Dutch will play the right way under Van Basten."

    Having scored 13 goals himself in his 67 matches for Holland, he was qualified to talk strikers and he had plenty of praise for the players selected to do the job in Germany.

    "Dirk Kuijt has been in excellent touch and he is a great character to have around. You can really depend on him, he isn’t too flashy but he gets the job done.

    "I think we’ll also see the best of Ruud Van Nistelrooy. I think it was good for Holland that he was being rested for Manchester United at the end of the season, you’ll probably now see big things from him.

    "I am always surprised how long the season goes for...  You’ll find most players won’t be 100% fit"

    Ronald de Boer

    "Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben are also wonderful young players in great form," he said, however he couldn’t sing the praises of the defence.

    "My major concerns are at the back. Khalid Boulahrouz is a bit of a concern for me, I’d probably play Andre Ooijer and John Heitinga at the back but we do need to work on the defence. I last saw them against Italy and they had a lot of problems containing Luca Toni who is a big physical striker."


    De Boer for his current side
    Al Rayyan

    His joy as seeing a rested Ruud Van Nistelrooy is linked with dismay at the number of players  being selected that are injured - a natural consequence he argues of their prolonged season.

    "I am always surprised how long the season goes for. As a player you do get annoyed as you always then turn up to these tournaments with injuries. You’ll find most players won’t be 100% fit.

    "It will give an advantage to teams that have players that are fresh. We saw at the last European Championship what happened when Greece won. I’m sure it helped that they had players who had played a lot fewer matches in Europe beforehand."

    Despite what he describes as "scepticism" for the Dutch chances, de Boer will still be cheering the side on from Germany as he heads over from his current base in Qatar.

    Just how long he is there depends on the new breed of Dutch masters.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.