The utility man has paid tribute to his national coach after playing left wing-back for the first time in Netherlands’ 2-0 win over Chile
By Kris Voakes at Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
Dirk Kuyt has hailed Louis van Gaal for his ability to keep getting results after Netherlands beat Chile 2-0 to finish top of World Cup Group B.
The utility man lined up as a left wing-back for the first time in his career as the Dutch recovered from a cagey start to beat Jorge Sampaoli’s men.
After the match, Kuyt was quick to praise Van Gaal for his effect on a side which collected nine points from nine to qualify for the Round of 16.
“We believe in the coach. I think he’s a quality coach and every time he tells us how to play, it works,” the 34-year-old told Goal.
“We knew we had to do this job today, we worked very hard. But we knew we’d get those chances, especially in the last 20 minutes we’d get more space up front and we did it. We scored goals, so we’re very satisfied with the way it’s gone so far.”
The Fenerbahce player insisted he was more than happy to fill in in a more defensive role, explaining that he’d known for a while that he might be asked to play in that position.
“I enjoyed it. I had never played in this position, but the coach told me a couple of weeks ago that it could be a possibility during this tournament and I told him that I would be ready for it,” said Kuyt. “I was very happy I got the chance today and I think it went very well.
“Hopefully I’ll get another chance, but that’s a question for the coach, you know. We have 23 great players, so he decides what team is going to start, but I am ready to be called.”
Kuyt has now racked up 99 caps for Netherlands, and while he hopes to rack up number 100 during the tournament he insists he would rather his colleagues won without him than lost with him.
“Of course, that’s an individual target but I would prefer to be very, very successful with the team and not play 100 games, But hopefully, I will play 100 caps.”
Netherlands are now likely to avoid Brazil in the next round, but defender Ron Vlaar is certain that the Dutch will prepare well whoever comes next.
“The tournament starts now. We cannot make any mistakes anymore, but I’m proud of the team and what we’ve achieved so far. We play every game to win,” he told reporters.
“It’s hard to say [who we want next]. I don’t really know, I can’t give you an answer. We wait and see what happens later today and then we will focus on that team.”