Soccer-Van Gaal set for dramatic Dutch return

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Manchester City vs Feyenoord - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - November 21, 2017 Louis van Gaal inside the stadium before the match Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Louis van Gaal is set to return as coach of the Netherlands with his appointment for a third spell in charge expected to be confirmed in the coming days.

The 69-year-old will replace Frank de Boer who stepped down after the Dutch were beaten by the Czech Republic in the last 16 of the European Championship last month.

Van Gaal will name former Netherlands coach Danny Blind and Henk Fraser from Sparta Rotterdam as his assistants and appoint Frans Hoek as his goalkeeper coach, multiple media reports said on Thursday.

Patrick Lodewijks, who was the goalkeeper coach since 2018, expressed disappointment in a newspaper interview on Thursday at being told he would be replaced while Sparta have confirmed the approach to Fraser, who would continue in a dual role.

Van Gaal was approached after De Boer’s departure with the Dutch football association director Nico-Jan Hoogma telling reporters they were looking for a strong personality to take over.

Van Gaal was first appointed Dutch coach in September 2000 but resigned just over a year later when they failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.

He returned in August 2012 and led the Dutch national team to third place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. In the seven years since, the Dutch have had seven permanent and caretaker coaches -- Guus Hiddink, Blind, Fred Grim (acting), Dick Advocaat, Ronald Koeman, Dwight Lodeweges (acting) and De Boer.

Van Gaal will have little time to prepare as the Dutch play three World Cup qualifiers in the space of seven days in September, at Norway on Sept. 1, and then home to Montenegro three days later and Turkey on Sept. 7.

In March, Turkey beat the Dutch 4-2 in Istanbul in their opening Group G game although De Boer’s team did bounce back to pick up six points at the expense of Latvia and Gibraltar.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)

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