Dirk Kuijt has emerged as a contender
AMSTERDAM, March 2: Dirk Kuijt has emerged as a contender for Ruud van Nistelrooy's place in the Netherlands team after scoring the winner in their 1-0 win over Ecuador, according to coach Marco van Basten.
The Feyenoord player struck three minutes into the second half to seal victory in the World Cup warm-up yesterday having moved from his usual right wing spot to the centre with Van Nistelrooy sidelined by flu.
''Kuijt did well and played with a lot of movement so the central striker position is getting busy, even though he should have handled his chances with more efficiency,'' Van Basten told a news conference.
''At his club he plays the same position and that is what he wants but so does Ruud (van Nistelrooy). He left a good impression today and we will take that into consideration.'' Despite a lacklustre first half Van Basten decided not to disrupt his side too much and made only two substitutions.
Newcomers Kew Jaliens and Martijn Meerdink were granted the full 90 minutes to recover from a disappointing start.
Van Basten also put George Boateng's poor performance as controlling midfielder into perspective.
''Boateng will play his best in that position when the opponent plays with an offensive midfielder, then he knows exactly what to do,'' said Van Basten.
''He had a free role and I wanted him to get used to it.''