Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Hamburg), Blerim Dzemaili (Napoli), Gelson Fernandes (Rennes), Fabian Frei (Basel), Goekhan Inler…
Amsterdam ,March 29 (Reuters): Netherlands coach Guus Hiddink insisted his side would qualify for next year’s European Championship as questions over his tenure re-emerged in the wake of a last-gasp 1-1 home draw with Turkey on Saturday.
Hiddink’s team needed a goal from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, two minutes into stoppage time to snatch a dramatic draw in the Group A qualifier at the Amsterdam Arena. Had Huntelaar not scored, it would have been their first loss at home in a European Championship qualifier.
“Of course, we will succeed even if I’m not sure yet how. We wanted to beat Turkey but at the end of the qualifying competition it could yet prove to be a very important point,” said Hiddink. The veteran coach had already been under pressure after the Dutch lost two of their opening three Group A qualifiers. After the 2-0 defeat in Iceland in October, he had talks with the Dutch football association over his role, but was given a vote of confidence.
Euro 2016 Qualifier: ‘Lucky Sneijder’ rescues Netherlands against Turkey
Pressure eased after a 6-0 win over Latvia in November but was ratcheted up again after Saturday’s disappointing draw. A leading Dutch soccer website began an online poll on whether the coach should stay after Saturday’s performance, eliciting a luke warm response. “It was difficult against a team like Turkey,” said Hiddink.
“They came to play football with a wall but they are not a bad team. Their position in the standings does not reflect their capabilities. We gave our all but it was not a good match from us,” he added. Turkey, who took a 37th minute lead through Burak Yilmaz, are still two points behind the third-placed Dutch in Group A. The Netherlands are on seven points, trailing leaders the Czech Republic by six points and second placed Iceland by five.
All have five more games to play. The top two teams in each group plus the best third placed finisher qualify automatically for the finals in France with the other third placed finishers then competing in play-offs to complete an expanded 24-team tournament.