5 Players Out as Viral Infection Hits Netherlands Squad

Soccer Football - Ronald Koeman is officially presented as national soccer coach of the Dutch national team - KNVB Campus, Zeist, Netherlands - January 23, 2023 New Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman during the presentation REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw
Soccer Football - Ronald Koeman is officially presented as national soccer coach of the Dutch national team - KNVB Campus, Zeist, Netherlands - January 23, 2023 New Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman during the presentation REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw
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5 Players Out as Viral Infection Hits Netherlands Squad

Soccer Football - Ronald Koeman is officially presented as national soccer coach of the Dutch national team - KNVB Campus, Zeist, Netherlands - January 23, 2023 New Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman during the presentation REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw
Soccer Football - Ronald Koeman is officially presented as national soccer coach of the Dutch national team - KNVB Campus, Zeist, Netherlands - January 23, 2023 New Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman during the presentation REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

Five players in the Netherlands squad to face World Cup finalist France in their opening European Championship qualifier have been sent home after contracting a viral infection.

Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo, Bayern Munich defender Matthijs de Ligt along with Sven Botman, Joey Veerman and Bart Verbruggen all left the training camp, the Dutch federation said on Thursday. It did not elaborate on the virus, The Associated Press reported.

The departures were another blow to coach Ronald Koeman ahead of the first match of his second stint in charge of the national team. Already this week, Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong and Ajax winger Steven Bergwijn dropped out due to injuries.

Koeman sought to play down the absences, saying he still had confidence in his team.

“I have two players in every attacking position," he said. "On paper, I have six forwards and that is enough for me.”

Koeman called up Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch, Vitesse Arnhem's Kjell Scherpen and Inter Milan defender Stefan de Vrij as replacements for the five ill players.

The Netherlands plays France at the Stade de France on Friday in a Group B qualifier before returning home to take on Gibraltar on Monday in Rotterdam.

Koeman said France has great players all over the pitch, but singled out Kylian Mbappe, who scored a hat trick in the World Cup final, a player “who can change a game on his own.”



Brazil Coach Dorival Junior Aims for Consistency to Achieve Copa America Success 

Brazil's coach Dorival Junior speaks during a press conference ahead of the Conmebol 2024 Copa America tournament group D football match between Brazil and Costa Rica at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on June 23, 2024. (AFP)
Brazil's coach Dorival Junior speaks during a press conference ahead of the Conmebol 2024 Copa America tournament group D football match between Brazil and Costa Rica at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on June 23, 2024. (AFP)
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Brazil Coach Dorival Junior Aims for Consistency to Achieve Copa America Success 

Brazil's coach Dorival Junior speaks during a press conference ahead of the Conmebol 2024 Copa America tournament group D football match between Brazil and Costa Rica at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on June 23, 2024. (AFP)
Brazil's coach Dorival Junior speaks during a press conference ahead of the Conmebol 2024 Copa America tournament group D football match between Brazil and Costa Rica at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on June 23, 2024. (AFP)

Brazil coach Dorival Junior has identified balance and consistency as the keys to success ahead of Monday's Copa America opener against Costa Rica.

Dorival, who took over in January and has only coached four games, admitted that the Brazilian squad still lacked on-field stability, which he said was natural given their short time together.

"I have to find a balance for a team that was put together only three months ago, and after a certain period of 15 or 20 days of work they have to find themselves again," he said at a press conference on Sunday.

"In football you don't skip preparation phases in training, but that's why we try to accelerate each one of them to have a consistent and confident squad that can then use the individuality of its players to create opportunities."

The coach announced a starting line-up that included two new faces, Real Madrid center back Eder Militao and Atletico Mineiro full back Guilherme Arana.

"The starting line-up will have Militao and Arana. In every game, if necessary, there will be one or two changes. All the players are ready. None of them are below our expectations. We are prepared for any situation," the coach added.

New Real Madrid signing Endrick will not start against Costa Rica and is expected to come on in the second half, as Dorival called for "a bit of patience" with the 17-year-old striker.

"It's something that will happen naturally. It might not take long because he is extremely skillful. I'm in a hurry to get him on the pitch, but you have to have a certain balance. He has excellent skills and is one of the most promising players."

Brazil will also face Colombia and Paraguay in Group D.