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Van Gaal names final World Cup squad
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - Louis van Gaal named a mix of experience and youth in his final 23-man World Cup squad Saturday, as the Netherlands seeks to go one better than its runner-up finish in 2010.
Van Gaal’s squad is built around the veteran attacking trio of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, while the inexperienced defense is formed largely from Feyenoord players past and present.
Three key players are missing the tournament in Brazil through injury - midfielders Kevin Strootman and Rafael van der Vaart and right back Gregory van der Wiel.
The Netherlands, a three-time World Cup runner-up, opens its campaign in Brazil on June 13 with a repeat of the 2010 final against Spain. It also plays Australia and Chile in Group B.
While Manchester United striker Van Persie, Bayern Munich winger Robben and Galatasaray playmaker Sneijder have 253 international appearances between them, the eight defenders named by Van Gaal boast a total of just 75.
Sneijder was one of the joint top scorers at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with five goals. Van Persie is the Netherlands all-time top scorer with 43 goals, but has a poor record at major tournaments and will be looking to showcase his phenomenal scoring record at club level on football’s biggest stage.
Among the defense was 20-year-old Terence Kongolo of Feyenoord, who has just 45 minutes of senior international football to his name while Joel Veltman of Ajax and Paul Verhaegh of Augsburg both have two caps.
Kongolo is joined by fellow Feyenoord defenders Bruno Martins Indi, Stefan de Vrij and Daryl Janmaat. Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar, a former Feyenoord star, is expected to be one of Van Gaal’s central defenders.
Van Gaal trimmed six players from his provisional squad Saturday.
Among them was Vitesse Arnhem defender Patrick van Aanholt.
“Of course I’m disappointed,” Van Aanholt said. “But more than anything I’m proud to have been part of this squad for so long. I have a feeling I’ll be back in the future.”
Michel Vorm (Swansea City), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Jasper Cillessen (AFC Ajax).
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