Netherlands chances of reaching the World Cup next year took a battering in Bulgaria as Danny Blind’s side slumped to a 2-0 defeat.

Blind left people scratching their heads before kick-off when it was announced that 17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was chosen ahead of Wesley Hoedt in the centre of defence after Stefan de Vrij failed to recover from a shin injury. The 17-year-old had only played a handful of games for Ajax and was chosen for a must-win qualifier in Sofia ahead of one of the Serie A’s most impressive centre-backs this season.

The coaches gamble proved to be a huge mistake after only five minutes as De Ligt missed a header which allowed Spas Delev in on goal and the attacker slotted past Jeroen Zoet. Fifteen minutes later, De Ligt allow Delev to turn on the ball and fire Bulgaria 2-0 ahead from just outside the box.

After the early setbacks, Netherlands couldn’t muster a single shot on target with Bas Dost failing to find the target with a massive chance just before the break.

Blind realised his error at half-time by bringing off De Ligt for Hoedt, while Wesley Sneijder was called on to try and spark up a comeback. However, despite dominating possession in the second half, Netherlands couldn’t find a way back. Goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov saved well from Davy Klaassen but didn’t really have much to do as Oranje passed the ball around without much penetration.

Luuk de Jong came on with fifteen minutes left but the PSV man barely had an impact and Bulgaria more than comfortably saw out the last minutes to seal a big win for them.

Once again Dutch football is being maligned after another lifeless performance by the national team, who slip to fourth in the qualifying group. Second place now seems the only realistic hope for Oranje now but no mistakes can be made between now and the end of the group.

One question on everyone’s lips is whether the KNVB will admit their mistake and relieve us of Danny Blind’s hopeless tenure in charge.

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