Kuyt hails van Gaal tactics


El Tri took the lead just minutes after the break, yet Wesley Sneijder levelled matters two minutes before time before substitute Klaas Jan Huntelaar converted from the spot to send the Oranje through to the quarter-finals.

And Kuyt, who played in three different positions during the game in accordance with his manager’s request, could only admire van Gaal’s intelligence as his tactical nous assisted the Netherlands turn-around.

"He's maybe the best tactically there is in the world," the 33-year-old told FIFA.com.

"It doesn't matter what system we are playing, the players know exactly what to do. He told us before the game already that we could switch system if we were 1-0 down.

"We switched to 4-3-3, then 15 minutes before the end of the game he decided to put an extra striker to play longer balls and look for second balls, and we managed to score a goal so his tactics were once again spot on."

Van Gaal himself directed all the compliments on his players however, praising them for their mental strength in the close encounter.

“I have to give credit to my players: I think they were in much better shape and much more focused than our opponents,” said Dutch boss.

“They never stopped believing, right to the end.

“They showed belief and a lot of confidence. We took advantage of the water break to tweak our system and created loads of chances, some of them denied by the woodwork and others by a keeper who has been fantastic.”

Van Gaal did give special mention to Galatasaray midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who finally opened his World Cup account with a brilliant strike to kick-start the Netherlands comeback.

“Sneijder is one of the most on-form players in my team: he's the one who covers most kilometres and his technique is outstanding,” said van Gaal.

The Dutch now face Costa Rica in their quart-final match-up on Saturday, 5 July.


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