Lodeweges, Rab, Baan and Grim: interim or not, forever a national coach

With Dwight Lodeweges at the helm against Poland and Italy, the Dutch Team again gets an unexpected name on the list of national coaches of the Dutch national team. As well as the names of the last interim-bond coach Fred Grim and Rob Baan and Jan Rab on the Wall of Fame in Zeist. National coaches for a while.

“But forever,” says Jan Rab on the phone from his hometown Meerkerk. “Nobody knows anymore that I was a national coach. It’s a good quiz question. But I’m proud of it.”

Rab and the change of Seedorf

At the beginning of 1997, national coach Guus Hiddink was recovering from an intestinal operation, assistant Johan Neeskens did not have the required papers and Junior coach Hans Dorjee had just had a heart attack. That’s why Hiddink asked Rab if he wanted to do the upcoming exercise in and against France.

Rab was employed by the KNVB since 1979, had been active as one of Leo Beenhakker’s assistants on the 1990 World Championships in Italy, had been coach of the Dutch under 18 and 21 and worked as a teacher of the KNVB-trainer-course.

“Actually, I didn’t fancy it,” says Rab. “I was messing with the KNVB leadership about my position. But for a colleague I wanted to do it. I had worked with some players before. With Dennis Bergkamp at the Netherlands under 18, for example. In that respect it was not unique”

“Then I drove to Hiddink in Varsseveld and we talked for a few hours about how and what, about the set-up as well”, Rab continues. “I got a free hand, could intervene whenever I wanted. The day of the race Hiddink came to Paris and I also talked to him. He didn’t speak to the group

The duel between France and the Netherlands in the Parc des Princes was a match between two top teams, between the later world champion and number four of the World Cup. Bergkamp put the Netherlands ahead, but goals from Robert Pirรจs and Patrice Loko in the final quarter made it 2-1 for Les Bleus.

“France had a great team, but we didn’t start off unkindly,” says Rab. “We played at high speed and with a lot of depth. Bergkamp shot on the pole after the 1-0. Otherwise we would have gone into the break 2-0. At one point we played a bit too haughty. It became too easy and France woke up”

In the 73rd minute, Rab took Clarence Seedorf to the side in favor of Marc Overmars. “That decision was much discussed”, Rab remembers. “Clarence was a player who at that moment exaggerated a bit. We wanted to keep it simple. Afterwards I talked about gallery play of Seedorf. That didn’t sit well with him and led to some commotion. He expressed his dissatisfaction to a journalist and every journalist came back to me.”

In the evaluation with Hiddink, of course, the switch was also discussed. “Hiddink was not dissatisfied,” says Rab. “No reproaches. I explained to him how I had solved it and he gave me back, to keep it in football terms”

As an analyst of opponents, Rab went to the World Cup with the Dutch. In 1999, he left the KNVB to join NAC as technical director. The 76-year old Rab has been retired for years now. Due to a worn hip, he does not run smoothly anymore.

Job and the advice of Krol

For Rab no victory as national coach for a while. Rob Baan did better in that respect in 1981. After a disappointing mini World Cup in Uruguay Jan Zwartkruis resigned, because he was fed up with the constant criticism of the media.

“You have to take over,’ Jan said to me”, says Baan, who had served as Zwartkruis’ assistant for years. “The union then acted quickly. I would do it for three duels. But that didn’t happen.”

Baan started with a 3-0 victory on Cyprus in the freezing cold of the Groningen Oosterpark. Hugo Hovenkamp, debutant Cees Schapendonk and Dick Nanninga scored. Baan caused a sensation by choosing a team with no less than seven players of the later champion AZ ’67 in the base. Not a single player of Ajax was at the kick-off.

The second country against France was Baan, not a national coach. Kees Rijvers, then still trainer of the Belgian Beringen, had been appointed as national coach as of July 1st, but wanted to do the match against the French himself. By scoring a goal by Arnold Mรผhren, the Dutch Team defeated France 1-0.

In the following World Cup Qualifier on Cyprus, Baan was again the selector. Debutant Cees van Kooten became matchwinner in a moderate match. “Against Cyprus everyone expects a big result, but it was difficult,” says Baan. “I thought in overconfidence to go on to 2-0, 3-0, but then Ruud Krol took the floor. Trainer, we’re not going to do crazy things, but check, he said. It stayed 1-0.”

For Baan it didn’t stay with this interim coach. In 2007 he was also the temporary selector of Australia. He led the Socceroos in London to a 1-0 practice victory on Nigeria. “I’m with it in the Guinness Book of Records”, laughs the now 77-year-old Job. “Undefeated as the national coach of two countries.”