Football

Sick van Persie could miss semi-final

De Jong and Vlaar return to training but 
van Gaal unsure if they would face Argentina

Holland captain Robin van Persie is a doubt for his side's semi-final against Argentina tomorrow morning (Singapore time) with a stomach problem.

"Robin van Persie has an intestinal problem and I didn't want to take a risk," Holland coach Louis van Gaal said this morning of the Manchester United striker, who has been training separately from his teammates.

Asked if van Persie would be fit enough to line up against Argentina at Sao Paulo's Corinthians Arena, van Gaal replied: "I don't know.

"Tomorrow (Thursday), I'll have to take all these decisions, not today. We have more than 24 hours before the match and Robin van Persie is a very important player for us.

"In principle, my captains always play, but only if they're 100 per cent."

Right back Daryl Janmaat also trained separately from the main group at Sao Paulo's Estadio do Pacaembu and van Gaal revealed that he, too, was suffering from a stomach complaint.

However, there was better news for van Gaal concerning the fitness of Nigel de Jong and Ron Vlaar, both of whom trained with the rest of their team-mates.

De Jong had been earlier ruled out of the tournament with a groin injury, while Vlaar was considered a serious doubt to face Argentina due to a knee problem.

DUTCH DELIGHT

While van Gaal was delighted to see both players back on the training pitch, he said that it was too early to say whether or not they would be able to face Lionel Messi and his Argentina teammates.

Asked if de Jong would be fit to play, van Gaal told his pre-match press conference: "I have no idea. He tried today in training.

"We'll now have to see how his body reacts. Let's wait for tomorrow, and for Vlaar as well."

De Jong, the 29-year-old AC Milan midfielder, has not played since tearing a groin muscle during his side's 2-1 win over Mexico in the last 16 on June 29.

Dutch medical staff initially predicted that he would be sidelined for between two and four weeks.

Aston Villa defender Vlaar, 29, injured his knee during Holland's penalty shootout victory over Costa Rica in the quarter-finals.

Another player potentially available to face Argentina is midfielder Leroy Fer, who was able to take part in training despite a thigh complaint.

Should de Jong and Vlaar prove their fitness, it will be a major fillip for van Gaal, who has relatively few experienced players at his disposal.

Holland are bidding to qualify for their second consecutive World Cup final, having been beaten 1-0 by Spain in the 2010 decider in South Africa. 
- AFP.

Krul won't start for Holland

TOP STOPPER: Holland's reserve goalkeeper Tim Krul (above) is better at stopping penalties than first-choice Jasper Cillessen, says Louis van Gaal. PHOTO: REUTERS

Holland's substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul may have been the hero in the penalty-shootout win over Costa Rica in the quarter-final.

However, that has not convinced coach Louis van Gaal to promote him to the starting line-up for tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) semi-final against Argentina.

Krul was brought on to replace first-choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen just as extra time was ending, with the score at 0-0.

He saved two spot-kicks in the ensuing shootout and Holland edged past Costa Rica 4-3.

"That didn't occur to me," van Gaal said this morning, when asked whether he had thought about starting Krul.

WONDERFUL JOB

"This is something I excluded from the very beginning, because I believe Jasper Cillessen is doing a wonderful job.

"Stopping a penalty, that is what the other two are better at, so I selected Krul."

Holland's other reserve goalkeeper is Michel Vorm.

Van Gaal was not asked whether he would choose Krul again should the semi-final go to penalties.

- Reuters.

World Cup