Football: World Cup - Hiddink urges caution

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The Independent Online
GUUS HIDDINK, the Netherlands' coach, says he will make few, if any changes, for tomorrow's game with Mexico from the team that began the 5-0 rout of South Korea. He said yesterday: "We will be aiming to neutralise their strengths but I don't envisage any changes."

The Netherlands face Mexico in their final Group E match in St Etienne. Patrick Kluivert is still out though suspension but otherwise Hiddink has no selection problems. Phillip Cocu, who opened the scoring on Saturday, had an ankle injury but resumed training on Tuesday. The midfielder Ronald de Boer sat out training but is expected to be available. Wim Jonk, who learned of the death of a close friend on Monday, has decided to stay in France.

The Dutch coach had few complaints about the way his team performed on Saturday but said he wants a "return to basics" tomorrow.

Against South Korea, he said the team lost the ball too often, particularly in the early phases, and were too intent on delivering the killer pass. He said he hoped the Dutch would continue to work off the ball and pass in triangles until a clear opening appeared. He said: "I think we needed to apply the brake on some occasions."

Hiddink knows a draw should be enough to ensure the Dutch win Group E but says they will not play with that in mind. He said: "I don't think we can play in such a calculated way." Hiddink mentioned four Mexican players the Dutch would need to watch - striker Luis Hernandez "who is hot," Cuauhtemoc Blanco "who is threatening on the right, the left and in the middle", Jesus Ramirez "with his fine passing" and substitute midfielder Jesus Arellano.

He added: "We have seen they have a great deal of individual talent and in a tropical environment on Saturday they showed they have real character. We must be very sharp and attentive."

The Belgium coach, Georges Leekens, yesterday called up the winger Nico van Kerckhoven to replace the injured Danny Boffin for his team's final World Cup Group E match against South Korea tomorrow. Leekens said there were also fitness doubts about the captain, Franky van der Elst, and the goalkeeper Filip De Wilde for a game which Belgium must win to stay in the hunt for a second-round place.

Leekens said De Wilde is still dogged by a groin problem and might be replaced by the 37-year-old keeper Philippe Vande Walle. He added that Van der Elst, also 37, suffered from the heat and fatigue after Saturday's match against Mexico.

Van der Elst, who asked to be replaced after just 10 minutes against Mexico, was still unwell on Monday. Leekens said: "He had to dig very deep against Mexico. But I'll always wait for a player like him."

Leekens hinted. however. that Van der Elst would be replaced by Philippe Clement. Clement played a "fantastic match" against the Netherlands. I know [Van der Elst], he's always straight with me. He'll tell me whether he'll be able to play."

Leekens reckoned that the FC Metz winger Boffin, who suffered a knee injury against Mexico last Saturday, would be out for the tournament. Leekens added: "This kind of injury doesn't heal in just a few days."

But Leekens said he was keeping the faith with his strikers Luc Nilis and Luis Oliveira, despite mounting criticism that they have so far failed to deliver and should be dropped in favour of the brothers, Lokonda "Emile" Mpenza and Mbo Mpenza.

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