World Cup sidelights: No 'Van' to drive Dutch ambitions
The suspension of captain Robin van Persie for Monday’s World Cup Group B decider against Chile means the Netherlands will play an international without a player whose surname begins with ‘Van’ for the first time in almost two decades.
The last time it happened was in 1996 in a friendly against China, some 221 matches ago, the Algemeen Dagblad reported on Saturday.
Since then the Dutch have had at least one ‘Van’ on the field but ironically in the reign of coach Louis van Gaal that run is about to end.
Van Persie is suspended after being booked in the opening two wins over Spain and Australia.
The last time the Netherlands played in the World Cup finals without a ‘Van’ they lost a group match in 1994 in Orlando to neighbours Belgium, for whom Franky van der Elst lined up on the other side.
Injury before the tournament in Brazil kept Rafael van der Vaart out of the Dutch squad and full back Gregory van der Wiel, who played in the 2010 final, was left out because of poor form. Dutch football is littered with venerable footballing ‘Vans’ -- Marco van Basten, Edwin van der Sar, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Ruud van Nistelrooy in recent times and the likes of Willem van Hanegem and the Van der Kerkhof brothers, who played in past World Cups.
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Image: Wesley Sneijder and Robin Van Persie of the Netherlands acknowledge the fans after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match against Australia on Wednesday
Photographs: Vinicius Costa/ Getty Images
Rakitic, M'Bia exchange shorts after match!
A whole new area of collectors’ items may be opening up with Croatia's Ivan Rakitic and Cameroon's Stephane M’Bia deciding to swap shorts after a World Cup Group A match on Wednesday.
Croatia demolished Cameroon 4-0 but the former Sevilla players ‘got down to basics’ to show their friendship from their days at the La Liga club.
Both players, who exchanged shorts after their match, played a big part in Sevilla’s Europa League campaign last season.
Image: Stephane Mbia of Cameroon and Ivan Rakitic of Croatia walk off the field after Croatia's 4-0 win on Wednesday
Photographs: Stu Forster/Getty Images