Goalkeeper Cillessen: My confidence unaffected by shootout substitution
Dutch custodian insists his morale is not affected after making way for Krul in shootout win over Costa Rica
HOLLAND v ARGENTINA
(Thursday, 4am, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)
Thankfully for Holland, Jasper Cillessen is a better goalkeeper than he is an actor.
Holland's No. 1 must have anticipated the question, but his stiff body language betrayed him at a press conference this morning (Singapore time).
"My confidence? Why would it affect my confidence?" he replied, when asked if his self-belief had suffered after being substituted in the 120th minute in a World Cup quarter-final.
"Of course it didn't affect my confidence."
But of course it did. The Ajax goalkeeper smiled awkwardly in the press conference at Holland's training camp in Rio de Janeiro.
At that moment, there was an urge not to criticise, but to console. In a room filled mostly with Dutch journalists and officials, he found many familiar friendly faces feeling sorry for him.
"I didn't know Tim Krul was going to come on for me. The substitution was a huge surprise to me," he said, practically sighing at the chance to speak truthfully.
"I wanted to play everything. I wanted to play the penalty shootout but the coach made a decision that Tim was better than me and I had to accept it."
"I saw him warming up towards the end. So it did cross my mind that I might be substituted, but only if I got injured."
Cillessen needed a hug. Reassurance that everything was going to be all right, that he hadn't been humiliated in front of half a billion disbelieving TV viewers.
The tension here at the Flamengo Stadium was palpable.
A parang couldn't have chopped its way through the atmosphere. The man who replaced him - who was ordered to not only usurp his colleague but keep him in the dark - sat beside him in the small, dingy room.
Louis van Gaal acquired a taste for the theatrical years ago, but this was the most macabre spectacle, forcing the audience to share in the discomfort.
He would have delighted in pairing the two together, and offering them on an Oranje platter for the voracious media. Neither goalkeeper looked particularly comfortable.
Krul shifted uneasily in his seat.
"The coach did tell me beforehand that if he had a substitute left, he would use me for the penalty shootout," the Newcastle custodian conceded.
"I had studied Costa Rica's penalties against Greece. I told them I knew where all their penalties were going. I had to try and psyche them out because I was under pressure as well.
"But no one had any idea. The whole bench was confused, both benches were confused. The look on the Costa Rica coach's face was priceless. It was all about psyching out the other team and having an impact and it worked."
For most coaches, ordinary men not blessed with the unshakeable confidence and inflated ego of van Gaal, an agonising selection dilemma lies ahead of the semi-final against Argentina.
The first-choice goalkeeper excelled over 120 minutes, making a superb save at the death to keep Holland in the match. His deputy then came on and became a national hero in five minutes.
Now they both want to play, and made no secret of their ambitions. It was awkward.
"There's no jealousy between me and Jasper," Krul claimed, convincing no one.
"I'd love to play in the semi-final, but Jasper is our No. 1, so it's up to me to keep him sharp. That's why we're in the semi-finals of the World Cup.
"I keep training day in and day out while the coach chooses Jasper, but he showed great confidence in me to bring me in for a World Cup quarter-final. There's nothing better than playing for your country."
Now the coach must choose between them.
Cillessen registered his displeasure when he was substituted, kicking water bottles across the dugout yesterday morning.
He admitted that he apologised in the dressing room immediately after the game. He stayed on message. Everyone in the Dutch camp focuses only on van Gaal's bigger picture. Sentiment is always a distant second to winning.
For the second time in a week, a Dutch goalkeeper is going to be left bitterly disappointed.
I want to apologise. I’ve already done to Frans Hoek (the Dutch goalkeeper coach), and I will do so to the whole squad. I knew nothing about this. The change was a shock to my system.
— Holland goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, apologising for his petulant outburst after he was substituted by Tim Krul for the penalty shootout against Costa Rica
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."