Holland recall Sneijder for World Cup qualifiers
Outspoken Dutch coach Louis van Gaal seems to be satisfied with Wesley Sneijder’s match fitness, as he has recalled the former Inter Milan man for the Netherlands’ upcoming World Cup 2014 qualifiers at home against Estonia and Romania on March 22 and 26, respectively. The Oranje are sitting pretty in Group D with a hundred per cent record from four matches, and Van Gaal seems to be using the team’s comfortable position on the road to Brazil by picking talented uncapped players and experienced campaigners who were previously left out either due to lack of form or injuries.
The 28-year old Sneijder lacked match fitness on account of injuries and a contract dispute with Internazionale throughout the first half of the season, but has found new rhythm and confidence after moving to Turkish side Galatasaray during the January transfer window. Although Louis van Gaal is still to be fully assured of the playmaker’s form and fitness, his inclusion suggests that the 61-year old manager is ready to provide Wesley Sneijder the perfect opportunity to reclaim his old form that had once propelled Inter Milan to a Champions League victory and the Netherlands to the runners-up spot in South Africa 2010.
Capped 90 times by the Oranje, Sneijder looked to be finding his best form as he played a pivotal role in guiding Galatasaray to the quarter finals of the Champions League this season where they will face Real Madrid, and even acknowledged after the match that his much talked about move from Italy might just be a good decision after all.
“Sneijder did not play for four months and is still improving but he can do much better than he showed so far,” Van Gaal opined.
As far as another senior pro is concerned, the former Bayern Munich boss has called up Rafael van der Vaart to the squad, although critics might question this decision, as young U-21 international Adam Maher showed in February’s friendly against Italy that he is the one for the future to advocate Holland’s ‘Total Football’ concept. However, Van Gaal is experienced enough to back his decision, and has clearly praised the AZ Alkmaar player, who was in the Dutch preliminary squad but is now being allowed to play for the U-21 team as the inclusions of Sneijder and Van der Vaart would not guarantee the 19-year old any handy playing time.
However, Feyenoord’s teenage sensation Tonny Trinidade de Vilhena is in the 23-man strong team for the late March qualifiers, the central midfielder rewarded for an outstanding season that has helped the club from the De Kuip stadium fight for the Dutch Eredivisie this season. Feyenoord are currently one point adrift of Ajax at third place. Four league goals in 19 league appearances is a good record for a young central midfielder like Tonny de Vilhena, whose defensive qualities are hugely admirable too. The player of Angolan origin has impressed a number of Europe’s top clubs, and Louis van Gaal has certainly earmarked him for the future of Dutch football.
The 23-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma), Michel Vorm (Swansea City), Kenneth Vermeer (Ajax Amsterdam)
Defenders: Daley Blind (Ajax Amsterdam), Darryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Joris Mathijsen (Feyenoord), Ricardo van Rhijn (Ajax Amsterdam), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord)
Midfielders: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea City), Rafael van der Vaart (SV Hamburg), Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), Tonny Trindade de Vilhena (Feyenoord)
Strikers: Siem de Jong (Ajax Amsterdam), Ola John (Benfica), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (PSV Eindhoven), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Ruben Schaken (Feyenoord), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)