Dutch football coach fired after dramatic World Cup qualifier loss

Rufina Vignone
Aprile 2, 2017

The Dutch slipped to a damaging 2-0 loss at Bulgaria on Saturday and their hopes of reaching next year's tournament in Russian Federation now appear remote, with Blind's side fourth in Group A and three points behind Sweden in second place.

Blind, 55, had been in charge since July 2015, succeeding Guus Hiddink, but Saturday's loss in Sofia left the Dutch in fourth place in qualifying Group A, six points behind leaders France. Only the top team from each group will make it to the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation, while the second place team will take part in the play-off.

"We're on the pitch and we have to perform", he said. Guus Hiddink and Danny Blind failed to qualify for the Euro 2016, and now the Netherlands are risking to skip the World Cup in Russian Federation as well.

The Netherlands, still smarting from being the only one of the major European powers to miss out on Euro 2016, was hoping to rebound with a strong performance and announce its return to being a force on the continent. He also sent on veteran Wesley Sneijder in an attempt to spark more creativity in midfield.

"The blame falls on me", explained Blind after the Bulgaria loss.

Dutch newspapers pronounced the defeat a "debacle". Under Blind Oranje did not qualify for the European Championships of previous year.

Nonetheless, the Bulgarians managed to see out the closing stages to claim a vital victory in their pursuit of World Cup qualification. "This is a nightmare", Dutch captain Arjen Robben, nearly twice de Ligt's age at 33, told NOS.

"It's sad. I'm speechless". Bulgaria will take more precautions in the first half and count on Tonev to score goals.

With a program in decline and no prospects for recovery in sight, the job of Dutch national team coach is no longer viewed as the plum job it once was.

Delev pounced on a mistake by 17-year-old Matthijs De Ligt, Holland's youngest debutant since 1931, who misjudged a pass and allowed the striker to slot the ball past Jeroen Zoet.

The KNVB said it will now start the search for a permanent replacement.

"We might get quick answers, or we might not".

The former defender's 20-month reign as manager came to an end and it's understood that the Netherlands Under-21 coach, Fred Grim, will be in charge for Tuesday's home friendly against Italy.

Their World Cup qualifying campaign hadn't started much better either, so a clash with Bulgaria on Saturday evening looked pivotal to their hopes of reaching the finals in Russian Federation.

Blind was informed of the decision to sack him at a meeting with KNVB football director Jean Paul Decossaux and technical director Hans van Breukelen yesterday.

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