Van Basten happy with Seedorf's return

November 16, 2006

AMSTERDAM, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Netherlands coach Marco van Basten was satisfied with Clarence Seedorf's return to the side after a late equaliser from Rafael van der Vaart earned them a 1-1 draw at home to England in a friendly on Wednesday.

The visitors opened the scoring eight minutes before the interval through Wayne Rooney but Van der Vaart, who started on the right wing in the absence of Robin van Persie, netted from close range with four minutes remaining.

AC Milan midfielder Seedorf made his first appearance under Van Basten and played his first match for the Dutch team since the semi-final of Euro 2004.

Van Basten said Seedorf, who won his 78th cap, is one of three candidates to pick up the baton of midfield enforcer from Phillip Cocu, who retired after the World Cup.

'We didn't expect him to take this team by the hand though he just tried to add his contribution. Some things he did well and sometimes not but that is football,' Van Basten told reporters.

'Clarence (Seedorf) is a player who can play as well on the left as the right side of the midfield. Van der Vaart and (Wesley) Sneijder have also played good matches in that position but it still is the position Phillip Cocu played for years and all of the candidates are obviously different types of players.'

With several midfield options, Van Basten may choose to focus his attention on a forward line that struggled to create any real chances against the well-organised English defence.

The unpredictable Arjen Robben picked his moments to show his brilliance but in the centre Dirk Kuyt never broke free from the shackles of the experienced John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.

Van der Vaart received compliments from his coach but proved the right wing is not his best position.

'Van der Vaart did well in a position he is not used to playing but found his space between the lines,' Van Basten added.

The Netherlands only really threatened in the final 10 minutes when Van Basten brought on target man Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

The attacking problems prompted the home crowd to chant for the in-form Ruud van Nistelrooy, who hit four goals for Real Madrid last weekend, but is still absent from the Dutch squad after a disagreement with Van Basten.

There is some homework for the coach to do before they continue their Euro 2008 Group G campaign at home to Romania on March 24 before travelling to Slovenia four days later.