Van Basten drops Huntelaar from World Cup squad
ZEIST, Netherlands, May 14: Marco van Basten dropped prolific Ajax Amsterdam striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar today from his final squad for the World Cup finals next month, sticking with Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dirk Kuijt and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.
The Netherlands coach had invited Huntelaar, scorer of 33 first division goals this season, for a four-day training session last week, but finally opted to take only three strikers.
''Klaas-Jan had a good season at Ajax and Heerenveen with many goals but is unlucky that we won't take four central strikers to the World Cup,'' Van Basten told a news conference, adding Huntelaar would return to the under-21 squad.
''He made a good impression last week and is a balanced boy who will make the squad in coming years.'' Manchester United's Van Nistelrooy will be first choice up front and Kuijt can fill in on the right wing.
The 23-man squad contains only two players, midfielder Philip Cocu and goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, with World Cup experience.
Van Basten decided against taking experienced 33-year-old midfielder Edgar Davids, saying the Tottenham player could be very useful but had started to show his age.
AZ Alkmaar defender Barry Opdam, who has played eight of the last nine international matches, lost his spot in favour of John Heitinga.
''Opdam is a good defender who performed well but the last months weren't his best, while Heitinga fought back impressively'' Van Basten said.
The Netherlands will gather on May 21 for a training week in Switzerland and host Cameroon on May 27 in a friendly in Rotterdam.
World Cup contenders Mexico and Australia will be the final two sparring partners on June 1 and 4.
The Netherlands are drawn in Group C alongside Ivory Coast, Serbia&Montenegro and fancied side Argentina for the finals which start on June 9.