Euro qualifiers: Netherlands shocked 0-2 by Iceland on home turf
The Netherlands, who finished third at the 2014 World Cup in July, are off to a woeful start to their Euro 2016 qualification campaign as coach Guus Hiddink feels the heat
The Hague: The Netherlands, who finished third at the 2014 World Cup in July, are off to a woeful start to their Euro 2016 qualification campaign as coach Guus Hiddink feels the heat after picking up three points from three matches.
Iceland midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson (left) scores against the Netherlands in Reykjavik (Iceland) on Monday. PIC/AFP
A Gylfi Sigurdsson double gave Iceland a 2-0 win over the European giants on Monday. Sigurdsson put Iceland ahead in the 10th minute with a coolly taken penalty after Gregory van der Wiel had fouled Birkir Bjarnason.
Both Dutch skipper Robin van Persie and fellow veteran Arjen Robben had excellent chances to level midway through the first-half but the former saw his effort saved by Hannes Halldorsson while the latter was off target.
They were left to regret those misses as the sparkling Sigurdsson added a second three minutes before the break, the Swansea City player tucking the ball away when the Dutch defence failed lamentably to deal with a corner.
“It’s finished for Hiddink, it’s time to leave the position to a younger coach,” blasted Ajax coach and former international defender Frank de Boer in the aftermath of the Iceland shocker.
Hiddink, who has also had spells as national coach of Australia, Russia and Turkey as well as Real Madrid, Chelsea and PSV Eindhoven at club level, got off to the worst possible start when Holland were beaten 1-2 by the Czech Republic in their opening qualifier.
A come-from-behind 3-1 victory, over a Kazakhstan side ranked 127 in the world, steadied the ship briefly, before Iceland, who have never qualified for a major tournament, upset the form book in Reykjavik. Iceland and the Czech Republic hold the top two spots and automatic qualification on nine points from three matches, the Dutch are on three with Latvia (2), Kazakhstan (1) and Turkey (1) bringing up the rear in Group A. Even as the clamour grows for Hiddink’s head, Robben said the coach should not be blamed for the team’s sudden loss of form after switching to a 4-3-3 formation from the 5-3-2 line-up used by van Gaal. “Forget about the World Cup and stop talking about the 5-3-2, the problem is not tactics,” said Robben.
“The problem is our mentality and people must stop believing we are good, because in reality we are not good.” “For Euro 2016, it is not too late but there are reasons to be worried however and we have a difficult trip to Turkey,” concluded Robben.