Hiddink ignores criticism and sets forward course
AMSTERDAM - Agence France-Presse
Coach Guus Hiddink of the Netherlands reacts during their international friendly soccer match against Spain in the Amsterdam Arena March 31, 2015. REUTERS PhotoNetherlands coach Guus Hiddink sought to put to rest the debate of his continued tenure in charge of the team as he savoured a 2-0 win over Spain in a friendly international on April 1.
Hiddink, who took over from Louis van Gaal last August, has had to deal with repeated questions over his role in charge of the Dutch who have struggled through the first half of the Euro 2016 qualifiers and sit in third place in their group, behind the Czech Republic and Iceland.
A last-gasp 1-1 draw at home to Turkey on Saturday in their latest qualifier stirred up the debate as well as unleashing some heavyweight criticism.
"Don't keep asking me if I am staying on as coach," he told reporters after the victory over the former world champions, secured with early goals from Stefan de Vrij and Davy Klaassen.
"There is no weight fallen off my back now. I never felt any weight on my back. We were always very keen to win this game and I saw in the first half a side who were highly motivated.
"This gives a lot of confidence to the team, we must regard this match as a good start for our next qualifier."
The Dutch next play in Group A against Latvia away on June 12, preceded a week earlier by a home friendly against the United States.
Hiddink has been criticised by high profile former players Johan Cruyff and Wim van Hanegem, who pen influential weekly columns for Dutch newspapers.
"I have no desire to get involved in any street fights," he added. "In the end it has nothing to do with football. I want to talk about football only. Let's rather talk about that."
But he did have criticism for the Amsterdam Arena crowd who jeered Spanish substitute Andres Iniesta whenever he was on the ball.
"If such a world class player is whistled at, supporters must be ashamed."
Iniesta came on for the last 15 minutes amid howls of derision as Dutch supporters marked him out for the extra time goal that saw Spain beat the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final in Johannesburg.
"I had to ask people on my bench why they were doing that. I didn't understand. Iniesta is not only a fantastic footballer but also a great person. I found the reaction to him out of line and shameful."