No 'Vans' to drive Netherlands
THE suspension of captain Robin van Persie for the World Cup Group B decider against Chile today means the Netherlands will play an international without a player whose surname begins with "Van" for the first time in almost two decades.
The last time it happened was in 1996 in a friendly against China, some 221 matches ago. Since then, the Dutch have had at least one "Van" on the field but, ironically in the reign of coach Louis van Gaal, that run is about to end. Van Persie was suspended after being booked in the opening two wins over Spain and Australia.
The last time the Netherlands played in the World Cup finals without a "Van", they lost a group match in 1994 in Orlando to neighbours Belgium.
Injury before the tournament in Brazil kept Rafael van der Vaart out of the Dutch squad.
Dutch football is littered with venerable footballing "Vans", including Marco van Basten, Edwin van der Sar, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Ruud van Nistelrooy in recent times.