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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 22:49 GMT 23:49 UK
Van Gaal favourite for Dutch job
Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal is tipped for the Dutch job
Louis van Gaal has emerged as the early favourite to take over as Holland coach following Frank Rijkaard's resignation.

Rijkaard stepped down after seeing his side crash out on penalties to Italy and van Gaal could be the ideal replacement.

The former Ajax boss recently left Barcelona and has made no secret of his desire to land the job.

"My only ambition is to be the coach of the Dutch national team," said van Gaal.

Manchester United defender Jaap Stam, part of Holland's beaten semi-final side, claimed: "I think it is highly likely that he will be approached."

Dutch team-mate Arthur Numan added: "He is the best replacement, but it is not difficult to say that as it is very obvious. He is candidate number one."

Among the other names in the frame are legendary former internationals Ruud Gullit and Johan Cruyff, though Cruyff refuses to consider the position.

"I am not available," said Cruyff. "To begin with you have to enjoy it and I do not."

Gullit is less emphatic on his availability and he said: "At this moment I don't know. This is a very difficult moment for us.

"Let things just float away for a while and then we'll see."

Rijkaard, meanwhile, is refusing to speculate over his own future in the game, stating simply that he wants to "stay in football".

He said: "I set my sights too high. It did not work and I must now take the consequences.

My only ambition is to be the coach of the Dutch national team

Louis van Gaal
"I have now turned the page," he added.

Rijkaard took over from Guus Hiddink after the 1998 World Cup, when France again went out on penalties, this time against Brazil.

Their latest penalty shoot-out agony means the Dutch have now been knocked out of the last three European Championships on penalties.

Neither they nor Italy had ever won a shoot-out before Thursday's semi-final.

Reflecting on the defeat, he added: "It was a tough night. I was with the group until late.

"It was intense, emotional, not easy at all... I looked all the staff and the players in the face and it was so painful. We all wanted to win.

"They were deeply disappointed and the emotions came out.

"First I went to thank them, comfort them, but it's something they have to deal with themselves... every word was one word too many."

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See also:

29 Jun 00 | Holland
Dutch party turns sour
29 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Italy through on penalties
29 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Holland v Italy clockwatch
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