December 20, 2014
Van Gaal regrets not being able to use his penalty expert
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal was left to regret the fact he could not use his specialist penalty-saver Tim Krul in the World Cup semi-final shootout which they lost 4-2 to Argentina.
Jasper Cillessen had never saved a penalty in his professional career and he failed to stop all four spot-kicks, sending Argentina into the final after Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder's efforts were saved.
The Dutch beat Costa Rica on penalties in the quarter-finals after Van Gaal brought on substitute keeper Krul just for the shootout and he made two fine saves.
But Van Gaal had used all three substitutions against Argentina, including taking off exhausted striker Robin van Persie in extra time, so Cillessen had to stay on the field after the match ended 0-0.
"If I had had the opportunity to substitute Jasper I would have done that but I had already used three substitutes so I couldn't do that," the Dutch coach told reporters.
"I thought it was necessary to get Van Persie out because he was on his last legs," he added. "My feeling was that (Klaas-Jan) Huntelaar would make the goal."
He was also left to rue the fact that Argentina keeper Sergio Romero emerged as his team's hero by saving two of the four Dutch spot-kicks, a player Van Gaal knows well.
"The penalty series is always a matter of luck," the Dutch coach said. "And, of course, I taught Romero how to stop penalties so that hurts."
Van Gaal brought Romero to AZ Alkmaar in 2007 when he was coach and although he later said his comments were made in jest his hurt was clear.
"It is the most terrible scenario to lose on penalties at the very least we were the equal party in the match if not the better team so that of course is a big disappointment," he said.