Flashscore exclusive: Zenden - 'Gakpo a talent, Noppert's choice a Van Gaal classic'

Flashscore exclusive: Zenden - 'Gakpo a talent, Noppert's choice a Van Gaal classic'
Boudewijn Zenden
Boudewijn Zenden
The former Dutch national team player, Boudewijn Zenden (46), gives his thoughts on his compatriots' victory over Senegal, praising the young star, Cody Gakpo (23), whom he knows well having grown up in his PSV team.

Born in the Netherlands but with experience abroad, Zenden lives football every second, given his role as an assistant in the youth team of PSV Eindhoven, the team in which he grew up at. 

From the height of his 54 appearances with the Oranje, the former forward commented on the victory of Louis Van Gaal's (71) Netherlands over Senegal, praising Gakpo, who was able to unlock the result with a centre-forward's goal.

Netherlands struggled to find victory, drawing on experience

I saw Holland a bit timid with the ball between their feet, I saw many ball losses on easy actions, while they seemed more comfortable in passive play. And that is nonsense, a historical paradox for Holland, who do not like to play on the counter-attack. Perhaps it was a trick of the nerves, being the first game of the World Cup.

It was a Holland more cynical than beautiful...

A tournament like the World Cup, you must start well, that is, with a victory. It is true that Holland always wants to play football, but it is always better to win than to play well. The result, in the end, counts more than the way you played. Because if you play well and lose the first game, it complicates the qualification process. But 2-0 is a good result that gives you confidence for the next match against Ecuador, which can already be a playoff for first place.

They can only get better from here

I think they can only improve from now on. And something was seen in the second half, when the game turned slightly. Bringing on Depay for Janssen was the right move, and I noticed that in general, the change from the bench worked well. The team didn't lose its identity with the entry of the bench players, even if the turning point came when Gakpo was deployed a bit further forward.

Cody Gakpo

He scored a goal as a true centre forward, even though he is not a centre forward.
He's a player who adapts, he saw Frenkie De Jong's cross and went decisively to the ball. 

The decision to bet on a young upstart like him is typical of a coach like Van Gaal. Did he imagine that he could break through like that and be decisive straight away?
Honestly, yes, although I was surprised that he was deployed as a central trequartista, because having seen him in PSV I have often seen him play on the wing, or as a second striker. It should also be mentioned, however, that this season at PSV he is the player who has been involved with the most goals (13 goals and 17 assists).

I know him very well, as he spent his entire youth at PSV. He always stood out for his technical ability and now he has become a mature and complete striker.

Depay and De Jong

He is recovering from injury, but he seemed to be on the ball straight away. He needs time to recover, but the fact that he played means he's fine. I know he would have liked to play more, but it was not the case to force him as we will need him later on.

The first big chance was for Frenkie De Jong, who failed to score a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, perhaps still showing that shyness that characterises him.
If you score a goal in the first half the game changes, and he failed to do that. I don't know if you can say he is a shy player, because he has the means to be decisive. But it's also true that if that's your nature, you can't change it. A goal would have freed him mentally, but it must also be said that it was he who made the cross for the winning goal. Yet I'm sure he can lead this team.


It's a typical Louis move. He's 28 years old, so he's not particularly young, and he's been deployed as a starter without ever having played with the national team. Only Van Gaal could think of such a move. He is very tall, but has shown he can also close well in low exits. 

A strong back three

Starting with the fact that De Ligt did not play his best game yesterday, he too, like the whole Netherlands, can only improve. And let's not forget Aké, now a permanent fixture in Manchester City and a perfect complement to the other two.