AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal is predicting another difficult World Cup qualifier when they host Montenegro in Eindhoven on Saturday, saying he expects the match to be as testing as their 1-1 draw in Norway on Wednesday.
The veteran coach, who is back for a third stint in charge of the national team, believes Montenegro will play above themselves in Saturday’s Group G clash and ensure his side are again put through their paces.
Montenegro snatched a late equaliser away to group leaders Turkey on Wednesday for a 2-2 draw, while the Netherlands had to battle to make any headway against Norway.
After four games the Dutch are second with seven points, one behind Turkey and level with Montenegro and Norway.
“I think Montenegro have creative, skilful and smart players. They will make it difficult for us, just as Norway did. But we’ve trained for that,” Van Gaal told a Friday news conference.
But Van Gaal also anticipated that Montenegro might play a little more expansively than Wednesday’s opponents.
“I look forward to that because I think they give away more space than Norway,” he said. “But because they are playing against the Netherlands, they are going to be additionally motivated. That will make it a challenging game and keep up the combat for 90 minutes.”
Van Gaal has Matthijs de Ligt back after suspension but will be without Daley Blind and refused to discuss possible changes in the defence or what system he would play. “I don’t want their coach to know more than he already does,” he said.
The 70-year-old Van Gaal returned to coach the Dutch after Frank de Boer‘s resignation following their last-16 exit at the European Championship in June.
In Van Gaal’s last spell in charge, they finished third at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris)