Friday’s UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier against Kazakhstan will be the Netherland’s first fixture without veteran Dirk Kuyt. After more than a century of appearances for the Oranje, what are the options ahead for head coach Guus Hiddink as a new era is ushered in?

  • By Adrian Bucher
  • Follow Adrian on Twitter


After 104 appearances for the national team, in a period spanning 10 years, Dirk Kuyt announced his retirement from international football  last week. Even at the age of 33, during this summer’s FIFA World Cup, Kuyt put in a string of memorable performances that perfectly encapsulated his time with the Oranje. Energetic. Threatening. Ubiquitous. The loss of Kuyt should be considered as a significant loss to the Netherlands, as new boss, Guus Hiddink, must do without a player that proved to be so versatile, able to play in a number of positions ranging from striker to full-back.

In truth, Kuyt’s retirement was long expected, and there have already been thoughts on how to replace the man from South Holland. Kuyt was a non-playing member of the side that succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic when Hiddink’s men got their UEFA Euro Qualifying campaign underway, and the Fenerbahçe was able to have a glimpse into the future – an Oranje side without his services. The natural question that arises is thus ‘who will be handed the task of filling Kuyt’s boots?’

Daryl Janmaat was Louis van Gaal’s initial pick at right back during the early fixtures of the World Cup. After failing to impress in the same vein as his partners in the Oranje’s defensice lineup, Janmaat was dropped in favour of Kuyt who justified van Gaal’s choice with a series of superb performances, including the dramatic victory over Mexico. It appears that Guus Hiddink has decided to give the Newcastle man another chance to establish himself as a starting player, after being handed a spot on the XI during that loss to the Czechs.

Additionally, PSV pair, Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay, should also face increased playing time on the wings in the wake of Kuyt’s retirement. Depay would seem as the natural player to take on the role of dictating the attacking aspect of the Hiddink’s wide-play, especially following the 20 year-old’s explosive start to the new Eredivisie season. However, with the Moordrecht native expected to be out of action until the middle of November, due to a groin injury, complicating Hiddink’s attempt to enjoy a qualifying campaign with as few hiccups as possible.

This series of events could open the door for another PSV player, Luciano Narsingh. The right winger has found playing time hard to come by ever since his debut for the Oranje two years ago. This has been in part due to the near-endless supply of talented Dutch players capable of playing on the wings, such as Dirk Kuyt, Arjen Robben, and, more recently, Memphis Depay. However, like Depay, Narsingh has made a fine start to the new Eredivisie season, scoring twice and making three assists in seven appearances. Guus Hiddink has already made note of the confidence he places on the Amsterdam native, electing to use him as a first-half substitute against the Czech Republic when things started to go south for the Netherlands.

Ibrahim Afellay is yet another name being thrown into mix. The Olympiacos player has seen his form improve in recent times, following his underwhelming performances at Barcelona, and has now found himself included in Hiddink’s plans for the foreseeable future. However, Afellay’s history with both club and country does not paint an encouraging picture, but, at the age of 28, and with 44 national team appearances to his name, it is certainly not too late for Afellay to re-establish himself as an important player for the Oranje.

The loss of Dirk Kuyt is certainly a heavy one for Dutch fans everywhere. Oranje faithfuls will fondly recall images of the blonde-haired player terrorizing the flanks. However, the future is far from bleak. Guus Hiddink has at his disposal a large number of players to choose from, players that could perhaps directly replace the gap left by Kuyt, or players, with some slight tactical adjustments, that can fit seamlessly into the national team fold. Several players will now have the opportunity to persuade Hiddink that they are the man to help lead the Dutch to internal footballing glory.

Adrian Bucher (39 Posts)