Van Basten: I'll be sacked if we don't qualify

August 31, 2007

ZEIST, Netherlands, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Marco van Basten said on Friday his contract as Dutch national coach would end if they fail to qualify for Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.

"In my contract is mentioned that if we don't qualify for the European championship, the contract will be finished," he said after naming his squad for their qualifiers against Bulgaria on Sept. 8 and Albania four days later.

Van Basten took the job in July 2004 on a four-year-deal. His team are third in Group G on 14 points from six games, but have a game in hand on Bulgaria (15 points) and leaders Romania (17).

"In June we spoke with (Dutch federation) director Henk Kesler about a possible extension but decided to await this qualifying campaign" he told a news conference.

Real Madrid winger Arjen Robben was left out of the 25-man squad as he still is not fully match fit.

"I spoke with Robben and after deliberation with our medical staff and the club we decided that he will just focus on his training sessions for the coming two weeks," said Van Basten.

Van Basten also underlined the importance of Ruud van Nistelrooy's return to the squad after a year's absence.

The Real Madrid striker is set to take over the central striking role that had been occupied by Robin van Persie, the scorer of four goals in that position and who will now move to the right flank.

"In the talks I had with Van Persie, he made clear that he felt more comfortable on the wings" said Van Basten, who also recalled central defender Andre Ooijer, who had been sidelined with a broken leg.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax Amsterdam), Henk Timmer (Feyenoord).

Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz (Sevilla), Wilfred Bouma (Aston Villa), Urby Emanuelson (Ajax Amsterdam), John Heitinga (Ajax Amsterdam), Kew Jaliens (AZ Alkmaar), Joris Mathijsen (SV Hamburg), Mario Melchiot (Wigan Athletic), Andr Ooijer (Blackburn Rovers).

Mifdielders: Ibrahim Afellay (PSV Eindhoven), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), Nigel de Jong (SV Hamburg), Denny Landzaat (Wigan Athletic), Clarence Seedorf (AC Milan), Wesley Sneijder (Real Madrid), Rafael van der Vaart (SV Hamburg), Demy de Zeeuw (AZ Alkmaar).

Forwards: Ryan Babel (Liverpool), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Ajax Amsterdam), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (Celtic).