Van Gaal using Netherlands camp to find top ‘penalty killer’ for World Cup

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Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal will use the UEFA Nations League camp to identify the best ‘penalty killer’ as he considers taking four goalkeepers to the World Cup in Qatar.

Van Gaal is keen to use the final A-League Group 4 matches against Poland and Belgium on September 22 and 25 to fine-tune his World Cup plans. The Netherlands will face Senegal, Ecuador and host nation Qatar in Group A on November 21, 25 and 29.

But the knockout rounds are already on Van Gaal’s mind, paying extra attention to potential penalty shootouts. The Netherlands have named four goalkeepers in their squad for this week’s Nations League matches and invited two more to training.

Photo by Broer van den Boom/Orange Pictures/ABSR Agency/Getty Images

Van Gaal will test all his goalkeepers in a special training session on Wednesday. He is determined to use the last international break before the World Cup in Qatar to determine who is the Netherlands’ top scorer among their goalscorers.

“I’m looking for the best penalty killer, so we test all the goalkeepers,” he said. “I’m always looking for small advantages, so I pay special attention to this issue. We’ve seen in the past how big a role penalty shootouts play at the World Cup.”

Van Gaal has not yet ruled out naming four goalkeepers in his 26-man Netherlands squad for the World Cup in Qatar. However, the Dutch coach was quoted by Reuters as adding: “I’m not sure yet because Fifa hasn’t given us clarity on this issue, but I think it’s logical to do it.”

Photo: Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images

Van Gaal has previous matches with the Netherlands and penalties in the World Cup final

Van Gaal showed the importance of knowing who was the Netherlands’ top penalty taker during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Minutes before the end of extra time, he replaced the goalkeeper in Holland’s quarter-final against Costa Rica in a shootout near El Salvador.

Neither nation managed to break the deadlock during the 120 minutes of action at the Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova. So Van Gaal took Jasper Cillessen for Tim Krul, who would have prevented Bryan Ruiz and Michael Uman from progressing to the semi-finals with Argentina 4-3 on penalties.

However, Van Gaal failed to repeat the trick against La Albiceleste at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo four days later. Another goalless stalemate gave the Netherlands back-to-back runs, but errors from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder led to a 4–2 victory for Argentina.

Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

In other news, Gheorghe Hagi, Dumitrescu took Romania to the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup

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