Vol. 5 Num 64 Fri. July 30, 2004  

Van Basten the boss

Marco van Basten has agreed to become the new Netherlands coach, the Dutch football association (KNVB) announced on Thursday.

The 39-year-old former international striker will replace Dick Advocaat, who resigned days after the Netherlands lost 2-1 in the Euro 2004 semi-final to hosts Portugal.

The KNVB said on Thursday they had finalised a deal with Van Basten and his assistant John van 't Schip and the pair would be presented officially at a news conference on Monday.

The statement included no details of the contract but media reports suggest Van Basten would be given a four-year contract.

After Advocaat's resignation KNVB director Henk Kesler approached Johan Cruyff for advice and the Dutch soccer great recommended he recruit Van Basten and Van 't Schip.

Cruyff, who has never been in charge of the Dutch national side, has promised his support to the new coach in a backroom role.

Two more former Ajax and Dutch internationals, Rob Witschge and Stanley Menzo, have been approached to complete the technical staff.

If they accept the offer, the new Dutch coaching team will be made up entirely of players who won the 1987 European Cup Winners Cup in an Ajax side coached by Cruyff.

It will be Van Basten's first head coaching role since persistent injury put an end to his playing career in 1995.

After seven years out of football, he joined the technical staff at Ajax in 2002, assisting Van 't Schip in coaching the the reserve team.

Van 't Schip, also a former Dutch international, had one year as a head coach with Twente Enschede in 2002 before resigning to return to Ajax.

Van Basten, who also played club football for AC Milan, was a member of the Dutch team that won the 1988 European Championship, scoring with a memorable volley in the final against the Soviet Union.

He will be the second Dutch national coach from that team after Frank Rijkaard, who was in charge of the squad between 1998 and 2000.

The most feared goalscorer of his generation, Van Basten was named European player of the year three times (1988, 1989 and 1992) and FIFA world player of the year in 1992.

Van 't Schip played for Ajax, Italian club Genoa and the national side as a winger.