Dutch hero unapologetic for staring and yelling at Costa Rica's penalty takers
Holland goalkeeper Tim Krul had to defend himself this morning (Singapore time), less than 24 hours after making two stunning penalty saves against Costa Rica to book his team's place in the World Cup semi-finals.
The towering Krul replaced first-choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for the shootout in Salvador, after the teams finished extra time deadlocked at 0-0.
The 26-year-old Krul vindicated his coach's unorthodox substitution when he saved spot-kicks from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana, to give the Dutch a 4-3 shootout victory and a place in the semi-finals against Argentina on Thursday morning.
But he also came under heavy criticism on social media for his intimidating tactics against the Costa Rican penalty takers, staring them down and yelling at them before they took their shots.
Asked if he had overstepped the line of good sportsmanship, a defiant Krul said he had nothing to apologise for.
"I don't think I've done anything wrong," he said at his team's training ground in Rio de Janeiro this morning.
"I didn't shout anything nasty at them. I just told them that I knew where they were going. I was trying obviously to get in their heads, and it worked.
"It's a way of trying to psyche them out. Obviously they were under massive pressure, I was under massive pressure as well, so I used everything in my power to make it happen, and luckily enough, happily enough, it happened."
Krul, who has saved just two of 20 penalties he faced with his club Newcastle, said the mind games had begun even before he stood on the line to try and save the first spot-kick.
Costa Rica had made the quarter-finals for the first time by beating Greece on penalties, but Krul said he knew they were rattled as soon as they saw him warming up.
"I definitely think it had an impact; when I started my warm-up, their whole bench was confused," he said.
"If you see their manager's face when I came on, he was looking over at our manager, his face was priceless. It was definitely one of those fantastic moves."
Holland coach Louis van Gaal, a renowned master tactician, had been hatching the plan for some time.
But he kept it such a secret that he did not even tell Cillessen, and let Krul in on his plan only on the bus to the stadium, and told him to keep it under wraps.
"The manager and the goalie coach told me before the game... they may use me in the penalty shootout," Krul said.
"So, obviously for me, I was watching the whole game with a different view because I knew the possibility was there.
"We have a plan before every game and I have my own style, and I think it works. I'm over the moon that I saved two penalties."
Krul would not give away any more secrets about what the Dutch might have in store to stop Argentina captain Lionel Messi.
"They (Argentina) are a fantastic team. They are in the semi-finals and you have to be fantastic team to be there," Krul said.
"But we are a fantastic team as well, and I think that we can be really confident with what we've shown and the players we've got.
"We're really fit, I think we're fitter than most teams at the World Cup, and we can be confident it will be a fantastic game.
"Hopefully we won't need to go to penalties against Argentina, and we will get the job done in 90 minutes."