Ex-Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has agreed to rejoin the Netherlands national team from January 1, 2023, three years after leaving the Oranje for the Camp Nou career. Current head coach Louis van Gaal will step down following the revelation that he is dealing with cancer, the Dutch FA have confirmed on April 5.
Koeman’s contract will be valid until the 2026 World Cup, when the tournament returns, across the Atlantic, to the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada.
Koeman will replace Van Gaal when the former Manchester United and Bayern Munich coach sidesteps his role upon the conclusion of the tournament. The 70-year-old recently revealed that he was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer – a fact his players had not yet known at the time of the revelation.
“I have now had four periods as national coach, I went to the hospital in the evening or at night in every period. Without the players knowing.
“They still see those ruddy cheeks of mine, and think ‘What a healthy pear that is.’ Well, of course, I am not.”he was quoted as saying by ESPN.
Despite the disease, the tactician is expected to see through the upcoming challenge. Netherlands return to the World Cup for the first time since 2014, where they won bronze medals, and are hoping to go all the way in the tournament, having never won the trophy before.
The Oranje have been handed a relatively easier draw on paper – alongside hosts Qatar, Senegal, and Ecuador – but Van Gaal remains cautious of any slip-ups.
“I don’t know if this is a nice draw, I don’t know much about these countries. I have been in Senegal on holiday two years ago, I have never been in Ecuador, I have never seen Qatar play.”he said after the draw, as per Eurosport.
Van Gaal and his team will take on African champions Senegal in their opening fixture on November 21. They will then play Ecuador on November 25 before finishing against Qatar four days later.