Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal has admitted that his players didn't want to take the side's first penalty during their shoot-out defeat to Argentina.
The responsibility fell to Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar who saw his spot-kick saved by Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero.
Netherlands looked so confident from 12 yards when they beat Costa Rica on penalties in the previous round but missed twice to hand Argentina a place in the final.
Van Gaal reveals penalty nerves
Van Gaal admits that despite winning their previous penalty shoot-out, his players weren't keen to take his sides first penalty.
“We took those penalties in an incredible way against Costa Rica,” said Van Gaal. “It should give you confidence. But the issue is you score the first one and I asked two players to take the first kick before ending up with Vlaar.
"I thought he was the best player on the pitch so should have a lot of confidence. It just goes to show that it’s not easy scoring in a penalty shoot-out.”
Against Costa Rica, Van Gaal made the remarkable decision to bring on substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul to face penalties. Krul saved two penalties and helped Netherlands into the semi-final. However against Argentina, Van Gaal had made all three subs and was unable to make the chance.
Jasper Cillessen was required to remain in goal to face the penalties but was unable to repeat Krul's heroics and failed to stop any of Argentina's penalties.
Van Gaal explains substitutions
Van Gaal brought off Robin van Persie, Nigel de Jong and Bruno Martins Indi and explained his substitutions suggesting that he had no choice but to make all three.
“I substituted Indi because he already had a yellow card and had to mark Enzo Pérez and was often too late. I thought he wasn’t executing properly. De Jong I didn’t want to risk. He might have been injured himself again. I substituted Van Persie because he was exhausted.”
Van Gaal bemoans third place play-off
Netherlands now face Brazil in the third place play-off but the new Manchester United manager believes that this match shouldn't exist.
“I think this match should never be played,” Van Gaal added. “I’ve been saying that for 10 years. It’s unfair - we have one day less to recover than our opponents.
“But the worst thing is I believe that, chances are, you lose twice in a row and a tournament where you’ve played so marvellously well you’ll leave as a loser after losing the last two matches. There’s only one award that counts, and that’s being world champion.”
Netherland have impressed during the tournament and have exceeding expectations by reaching the last-four. Van Gaal is happy with his side's performance during the tournament and states that were unfortunate to crash out after the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.
“I’m not really interested in what people say about me or my team. It’s a good thing if people are very positive, but the issue is, in a tournament like this one, you need to score one more than your opponent. We didn’t create much. It’s the most terrible scenario, to lose on penalties. At the very least we were equal with them. If not the better team. It’s a big disappointment," said Van Gaal.
“We played a fantastic tournament. No one had expected us to make it through to the semi-final. Argentina are a top country with top players. We didn’t lose against them, but the penalties are down to luck.”
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