Louis van Gaal appointed – again – as Netherlands coach

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Louis van Gaal was appointed Wednesday to his third stint as coach of the Netherlands following the national team’s disappointing showing at the European Championship.

Van Gaal succeeds Frank de Boer, who quit after the Netherlands was beaten 2-0 by the Czech Republic to exit Euro 2020 in the round of 16.

The country’s soccer federation said Van Gaal was appointed coach up to and including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The 69-year-old Van Gaal first coached “Oranje” from 2000-2002, when the team failed to qualify for the World Cup. But he had more success the second time, leading the squad to a third-place finish at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

He was lauded in Brazil for tactical substitutions including when he swapped goalkeepers deep in extra time of the quarterfinal against Costa Rica and saw substitute Tim Krul save two penalties as the Netherlands won a shootout.

Van Gaal coached Ajax to the Champions League title in 1995 and also coached Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

“Dutch football has always been close to my heart and in my view national coaching is a key position for taking our soccer further,” Van Gaal said in a statement released by the KNVB.

Van Gaal needs to get the team up to speed quickly after its disappointing European Championship showing. The Netherlands plays three World Cup qualifiers in early September, against Norway, Montenegro and Turkey. It currently stands second in Group G, one point behind leader Turkey.

“There is not much time until the next qualifying matches, which are immediately crucial for participation in the World Cup,” Van Gaal said. “The focus is therefore immediately 100% on the players and the approach.”

He said he already has spoken to several players in the team. Another former national coach, Danny Blind, was appointed an assistant coach along with Henk Fraser.

Nico-Jan Hoogma, the KNVB’s director of elite soccer, said the short lead-up time to the World Cup qualifiers made Van Gaal an obvious choice to replace De Boer.

“We were looking for a coach with exceptional qualities, who can also anticipate quickly and who is no stranger to national coaching,” Hoogma said. “With his experience and track record at the highest level, we believe that we have that in Louis van Gaal.”

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