Football

Van Gaal the reason for Dutch unity, says Robben

Arjen Robben has hailed the togetherness of the Holland squad after their dramatic penalty shoot-out win in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) World Cup quarter-final against Costa Rica.

Tim Krul replaced starting goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen in the dying moments of extra time and went on to save two penalties as the Dutch won 4-3 after a goalless draw.

And while internal problems have been cited as a reason for struggles in the past, Robben believes the substitute's impact and the scenes of celebration afterwards prove that Louis van Gaal's squad are united for the cause.

"(In the dressing room afterwards) it was a party. We were so good at the penalties too, compliments to Tim. It shows we do it all together," Robben said.

"We deserved to win. The only problem today was that we didn't score, but this was a great team effort."

Robben's teammate, Dirk Kuyt, also has paid tribute to his coach.

"Louis van Gaal is amazing," he said Kuyt.

"From the first minute to the last, he is prepared. He talks to his players and they all know their jobs. It is not easy for Tim Krul to come on at the last minute and save them, but he did it. He was busy with the Costa Rica players and put them off."

The effusive praise for the Dutch camp and especially their coach does not just come from within. Former Arsenal and England left back Nigel Winterburn has lauded van Gaal and his "sensational decision" to help the Oranje book a semi-final date with Argentina.

"I think it is in the spirit of the game and an absolutely sensational decision by the manager," Winterburn said.

"If you have a fantastic striker sitting on the bench, you'd have no doubt that he'd come on to take one of the penalties and, with the manager making this decision, it's justified by the result."

Van Gaal will take over at Manchester United at the end of the tournament in Brazil, and Winterburn says the Dutchman will have no problems adapting to life at Old Trafford.

"He's a big-name manager but what he's showing us at this World Cup is that he'll make big decisions," said Winterburn.

"Van Gaal doesn't care whoever's in the team, whether they're captain or not, he'll bring them off if he thinks they're not performing at a level he deems acceptable.

"I think you have got to have that at a big club. You have to know the manager's in control and is prepared to make the decisions, even if you don't like it at the time, for the best of the team." - Wire Services.

World Cup