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'That's no joke' - Van Gaal bizarrely claims he's picked Netherlands' squad numbers based on age

5:28 PM IST 16/11/22
Louis van Gaal Netherlands
Netherlands national team coach Louis van Gaal has claimed that he handed out squad numbers to his players based on age.
  • LVG claims 'age' of players dictated squad numbers
  • Pasveer given No. 1 shirt but not guaranteed starter
  • Frimpong & Simons given numbers 25 & 26

WHAT HAPPENED? The Netherlands head coach has claimed that the main reason behind his squad number choices for his 26-man World Cup squad is not down to preference, but instead because of the age of his players in the team. The 71-year-old manager has also insisted that the numbers do not provide any hints about who will be in his starting line-up.

WHAT THEY SAID: Van Gaal has said in a press conference: "I gave the players a number that fits their age.'' With his response being taken in jest by reporters in attendance, the Dutch coach elaborated on his answer. ''That's no joke. I never tell jokes at a press conference, I explain how I did that,'' he added. ''That [choice of squad numbers] has to do with age, that's why I give that answer.''

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Some big takeaways from the assigned squad numbers given to the Netherlands team include Luuk de Jong surprisingly being handed the No. 9 shirt, Memphis Depay being given the No. 10, and Virgil van Dijk donning his usual No.4 number. The two newcomers into the side - Jeremie Frimpong and Xavi Simons - have been given the numbers 25 and 26 respectively. Goalkeeper Remko Pasveer has been handed the No. 1 shirt, but Van Gaal has said it does not mean the Ajax man will start in goal ahead of Justin Bijlow and Andries Noppert.

IN PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR THE NETHERLANDS? The Dutch national team arrived in Qatar on Tuesday, and van Gaal took the side's first training session the following morning. They will get their World Cup campaign underway on Monday, as they play their first match in Group A against Senegal at the Al Thumama Stadium.