“ Turkey and Norway obviously stand out”, concluded national coach Frank de Boer dryjes, after having taken note of the draw that should lead to qualification for the World Cup in Qatar (2022).
“ These are countries you have to win from, but you don‘t just win.”
Compared to the unpromising 3-0 defeat against Turkey in Konya five years ago, the Dutch team has grown, says De Boer. “Turkey is traditionally just a tricky opponent, with many emotional fans in the away game and at home might be the same. Twice out.”
Of course De Boer refers to the large following that the Turkish team also has in the Netherlands, although it is very questionable whether the coronapandemic will already be sufficiently under control to allow that passionate audience as well. But also on the field De Boer expects fire: “Turkey is on the rise again, with very good young players.”
The Norwegians also see De Boer as a difficult opponent. “Norway is normally a very organized team. But now with Martin Ødegaard and Erling Haaland they have two jumping out of it. Then you will have to be very focused to win that.”
And then the smaller football countries in the group. “Montenegro and Latvia have to win, but you don’t just walk over it.”
About Gibraltar the coach wisely kept his mouth shut. “You didn‘t want to sit in pot two and for example against Spain lottery tickets. Everyone who sits in pot one must become first in this qualification. That goes for us, too. I think we can say that too, given the talent we have.”
Netherlands has to be first in the group to place itself directly for the World Cup in 2022. In second place there will be playoffs, in which it will have to beat two opponents.
“World Cup in Qatar strange, but it will be a good place”
If this mission succeeds, the World Cup in Qatar will wait from 21 November to 18 December. There is still much to be done about this allocation.
“ Weird”, De Boer, who himself closed his career with Al Rayyan in Qatar, calls the assignment to the desert state. “And then not even so much because of human rights. But it’s a small country and not really a football nation. I know what it is like and that everything will be arranged at a very high level. And it‘s in winter, well, then it’s nice to stay there.”
On Sunday, Gijs de Jong explained the position of the KNVB at Studio Voetbal. The Football Association rejects all human rights violations, but sees the allocation to Qatar as a bypassed station. Even though this allocation was demonstrably accompanied by bribery and manipulation.
De Boer supports the position of his employer. “I think that sport in general can focus attention (on abuses, red.), so that people will also do something about it. That would be fantastic.”