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Cillessen surprise omission as Van Gaal names Dutch squad

Veteran Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was a surprise omission from the Netherlands’ World Cup squad announced by coach Louis van Gaal on Friday.

Cillessen, 33, whom pundits say recently moved from Valencia to NEC Nijmegen to improve his chances of selection, was dropped in favour of Feyenoord’s Justin Bijlow, Ajax’s Remko Pasveer and the surprise inclusion of Heeenveen’s Andries Noppert, the Dutch Royal Football Federation announced in a statement.

Cillessen, who made his debut for the Oranje in 2013 also featured in the team that finished third in the 2014 World Cup under Van Gaal, nicknamed the “Iron Tulip” because of his no-nonsense approach to management.

In total Cillessen has 63 appearances for his country and was also in the training squad before last year’s European Championship — but was then dropped in favour of another veteran Maarten Stekelenburg after contracting Covid-19.

Dutch media reported Cillessen “exploded with anger” after earlier hearing he was not in the selection, having told website Voetbal International in an interview in October he “hoped to be on the plane to Qatar.”

Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Steven Berghuis, Steven Bergwijn, Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo are all expected to play a crucial role for the team that failed to qualify for Russia four years ago.  

The Netherlands start their Group A campaign against Senegal on November 21 then play Ecuador four days later and then the hosts Qatar on November 29.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Remko Pasveer (Ajax), Andries Noppert (Heerenveen).

Defenders: Nathan Ake (Manchester City/ENG), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool/ENG), Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich/GER), Jurrien Timber (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan/ITA), Daley Blind (Ajax), Denzel Dumfries (Inter Milan/ITA), Tyrell Malacia (Manchester United/ENG), Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen/GER).

Midfielders : Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona/ESP), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta/ITA), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Marten de Roon (Atalanta/ITA), Xavi Simons (PSV Eindhoven), Kenneth Taylor (Ajax).

Forwards: Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Memphis Depay (Barcelona/ESP), Cody Gakpo (PSV Eindhoven), Vincent Janssen (Royal Antwerp/BEL), Luuk de Jong (PSV Eindhoven), Wout Weghorst (Besiktas/TUR), Noa Lang (Club Brugge/BEL).

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