DOHA ( Associated Press) — Three wins away from the Netherlands title, Louis van Gaal has filled a World Cup with hugs, kisses and dancing.
Leading his country for the third time at the age of 71, he is the oldest coach in the tournament. He’s also probably the most handsome, walking into the band in his orange tie, dark suit, and dress shoes.
Van Gaal’s Netherlands are on a 19-match winning streak ahead of their quarterfinal against Argentina on Friday. Known as the “Iron Tulip”, he has been as entertaining off the pitch as his players have been on the pitch.
Van Gaal enthusiastically responded to a Senegalese reporter’s praise: “Oh, I can hug you. I’ll hug you later,” according to the translator.
After the press conference, Van Gaal kept his promise and gestured for Pap Mahmoud Gueye to come on stage and wrapped his arms around him, patting his back and patting his forehead.
A few days later, Van Gaal joined his players in dancing upon arriving at the St. Regis Hotel in Doha.
Van Gaal has led Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar, Bayern Munich and Manchester United to seven league titles, but is looking to clinch his first title with his national team.
Mindset is as important as strategy.
“It gives us a lot of confidence, clarity. Everyone knows what he needs to do from us,” said Denzel Dumfries, who scored once and assisted in a 3–1 win over the United States to take the Netherlands to the quarterfinals. sent to the finals.
Van Gaal first took over as Oranje coach in 2000 and resigned two years later after failing to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. He returned in 2012 and led the team to the 2014 World Cup, which they lost on penalties to Argentina in the semi-finals. The Netherlands finished in third place after defeating hosts Brazil 3–0.
He returned in August 2021 in place of Frank de Boer and Van Gaal made the controversial decision to hand 28-year-old goalkeeper Andries Knopoort his debut in the World Cup opener against Senegal.
The Netherlands have the distinction of playing the most World Cup finals without a win, which is a sore spot for their fans.
“We can become world champions – it’s not like we are going to be world champions,” Van Gaal said. “We can be world champions.”