“It’s a very painful elimination,” said Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal, who said goodbye to his third term in charge of the team, this Thursday at the Lusail stadium after being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the World Cup against Argentina (2-2, 4-3 on penalties).
“The players have fought until the last minute, they have left everything on the pitch, I am very proud. I have really enjoyed this cycle as a coach. It is very painful to see how we have been eliminated,” Van Gaal said at a press conference.
The ‘Albiceleste’, who will face Croatia in the semifinals, had gone ahead 2-0 with goals from Nahuel Molina (35) and Lionel Messi (72 from a penalty), but the ‘Oranje’ reacted in time and was able to balance the score, with a brace from Wout Werghorst (83, 90+11).
“Argentina have had to adapt their system and we have benefited in the second part. We have fought with all our might to try to come back from 2-0 against an opponent who was pressing very hard. We made it 2-2 and went to penalties”, analyzed the coach.
“I do not have any type of reproach to the players. It is an advantage to be able to have practiced penalties, although the match situation can never be reproduced. Losing on penalties is having very bad luck,” he added.
In the decisive round, ‘Dibu’ Martínez saved the first two Dutch shots, those of Virgil Van Dijk and Steven Berghuis, which propelled the classification of the Albiceleste.
“Since we are here we have focused on taking penalties, we believed we could win. But everything went uphill,” said the coach.
Van Gaal was critical of the work of the referee in the penalty awarded to Marcos Acuña that Messi made it 2-0.
“First there was a fantastic goal with excellent assist from Messi. Then we got a penalty which was conceded very easily. But in the second half we were able to show our football again with a different scheme,” said the former Barcelona coach.
Van Gaal said goodbye to the selection, in what is its third stage.
“I will not continue as coach of the Netherlands team. It was my last game in my third term,” said Van Gaal (71 years old).
“What I leave is an excellent group, on a personal and football level it is a very united team with many skills. I have been a manager for 20 games and we have not lost a single one, this is due to something,” he added.
Van Gaal will be replaced from January 1 by Ronald Koemanwhose appointment was announced several months ago.