China could learn from Dutch football, says Van Gaal

2013-06-06 23:55:29 GMT2013-06-07 07:55:29(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

THE HAGUE, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Dutch head coach Louis van Gaal believes Chinese soccer can learn from Dutch football during the forthcoming Asia trip, he said during an interview with Xinhua before departure.

Van Gaal has already visited China for holidays last year, but football-wise he has not much knowledge of the Asian country.

"Actually nothing and that is not much," he told Xinhua. "But we will have to ascertain ourselves about Chinese football.

"In principle, we always watch the last two matches, also of the Chinese national team. We analyze these matches and my assistants then show the images.

"I take a look at those two games as well and then we discuss and adjust our tactic. But we did not do that yet, because the first match is against Indonesia, so we are trying to analyze that opponent first. After Indonesia comes China. We never mix two matches."

The Chinese team has a Spanish coach, Jose Antonio Camacho, with whom Van Gaal is familiar. When the Dutchman became coach of FC Barcelona in 1997 Camacho was coach of Espanyol. In 2000 both met as national coaches of the Netherlands and Spain in November 2000.

"We won that game, which was very surprising," said the 61-year-old Dutchman. "We won 1-2 in Seville. My relationship with colleagues is always good. I have great respect for my colleagues. The same applies for the team we play against. I always analyze our opponents. I'll never let my team play and tell them to play their own game. I also look at the qualities of an opponent."

The Dutch team is a powerhouse in international football, currently number 9 on the FIFA ranking, while China is ranked number 86th in the world.

The Chinese so far only qualified for the 2002 World Cup and are already eliminated for the next tournament in 2014, while the Netherlands are on top of their European qualifying group and almost sure of a ticket to Brazil.

With this long tradition as one of the big footballing nations in the world, Van Gaal thinks the Chinese can learn lessons from the Dutch.

"The most important thing is perhaps our tactical ability," he said. "I think the Netherlands is leading in the world on a tactical level. It's the training and the coaches that we have.

"We have a good youth development system and I think we can also transfer that to China. Regarding China's infrastructure and the training of coaches and players, China can certainly learn that from us."

With Jan Olde Riekerink the Chinese football association already employs a Dutchman as coach of China Under-20.

"I know him very well", said Van Gaal. "I even played with him at the Rotterdam based club Sparta. But I also know him as head of youth at Ajax. He has extensive experience in the field of educating children. He also knows what a good infrastructure looks like. In principle, that is a pyramid structure. That's what you should form, from the grassroots to the elite level. Then you automatically get a good development in which the best play against the best.

"This is difficult in China because it is a very big country. Yet, you should have to try to achieve the best always playing against the best. But you cannot just copy the Dutch system. You should always look at the culture of the country. After doing this, you choose your solutions. You have to be there to talk with expertise."

Next week Van Gaal will be in China to coach the Dutch team and maybe also share some of his knowledge. At least the Dutch football association KNVB will do so. On June 9 the Dutch coach will give a clinic with his assistants Danny Blind, Patrick Kluivert and Frans Hoek, together with Dutch legend Ruud Gullit, to Chinese kids in the Olympic football stadium in Beijing.

In addition, special knowledge sharing sessions will be organized on the match day, June 11. During the meetings representatives of both countries will talk about development, scouting, coaching, refereeing and management.

"Personally I will not attend these sessions, but I will be giving a clinic," said Van Gaal. "We have a department, World Coaches, which is also used to transfer knowledge of how we do it in the Netherlands. And we will transfer that to the coaches in China. Then we can tell about a good infrastructure and how to make China develop in football."

The sharing of knowledge puts the trip in a different perspective. Last year Van Gaal said that the trip to Asia was partly arranged for financial reasons, with media emphasizing on this financial part.

"In the first place, the trip is, of course, always a sportive consideration, but I could mention other motives as well," Van Gaal explained.

"We go there and we get the chance to play in Indonesia and China, also because the climatic conditions are about the same as in Brazil. And if we go there one year before the World Cup, I can observe the players how they handle the circumstances. And also how they interact. That is all very good for a coach to know. Because at the World Cup we may have to play in similar circumstances next year. Certainly in many parts of Brazil it is hot and there is high humidity. On this trip we will play against the national team of Indonesia and the national team of China. China is ranked higher on the world ranking than Indonesia. So for us, China is an important game. And then I can see how the regular internationals relate with the new internationals, because I have four debutants included. Who have the required level? That is an important point."

"The other important point is that we have to make a long journey for a game of football," Van Gaal concluded. "You have to be paid for that. But we also need money to finance our youth academy. We also go for that reason. We will be accompanied by companies who want to sell their products in China. So it is also economically important for our country the Netherlands. I do not think that is wrong."

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