Koeman’s Netherlands rocked by virus
Botman, Gakpo, De Ligt, Veerman and Verbruggen were forced to leave the camp and will miss Friday’s game against France. Gravenberch, Scherpen and De Vrij have been drafted to replace them.
Ronald Koeman is set to make his debut in his second spell as Netherlands coach on Friday as his side take on the very powerful France in the opening Euro 2024 qualifier in Group B. Koeman was hit with last-minute problem. The Dutch football federation confirmed that five players have been dropped from the squad after picking up a virus. The affected players are: Sven Botman, Cody Gakpo, Matthijs de Ligt, Joey Veerman and Bart Verbruggen, all of whom have now left the Dutch training camp and will miss tomorrow’s game in Saint-Denis as well as Monday’s meeting with Gibraltar. They join other notable absentees including Frenkie de Jong, who was left out of the list due to physical problems.
Replacements called up
Koeman was forced to make urgent phone calls to three players who he had initially ruled out when drawing up his squad: Ryan Gravenberch (Bayern Munich), Kjell Scherpen (Vitesse) and Stefan de Vrij (Inter) have been drafted as last-minute replacements. All three will all arrive on time for the match against France, although they will not have benefitted from the squad’s training sessions in preparation for the game. Gravenberch and Scherpen, who are currently in Spain with the Under-21s, will join the group in Paris. De Vrij will also join up with the group in Paris, to take Koeman’s squad to a total of 23 players.
Koeman’s second spell at the helm of the national team has caused great expectation in the Netherlands after the promising level that the team gave under Van Gaal up until the Qatar World Cup. The team performed well in Koeman’s first stint which was cut short when he was persuaded to leave to take the Barcelona job. From March 2018 until November 2019 he was at the helm for 20 games with the national team, with a balance of 11 wins, five draws and four defeats. Now he returns hoping to prove his worth once again, although his first match in charge could not be much tougher... and he will have fewer players at his disposal than he anticipated.
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