Van Basten to quit Dutch team after Euro 2008

December 4, 2007

AMSTERDAM, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Netherlands coach Marco van Basten will step down after the Euro 2008 finals, the Dutch FA (KNVB) said on Tuesday.

Van Basten and his assistant John van't Schip will not extend their contracts which expire on June 30.

'After the World Cup finals last year we considered the coming Euro finals as a new challenge and after four years it will be time to work in a new environment,' Van Basten was quoted as saying in a Dutch FA statement.

'John and I have no idea what the future will bring us but it was our duty to inform the KNVB, a good employer, in time.'

Van Basten succeeded Dick Advocaat in July 2004 and guided the Dutch side through an unbeaten 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign. At last year's finals the Netherlands lost to Portugal in the first knockout stage.

The Dutch qualified for the finals of Euro 2008 as group runners-up behind Romania and have been handed a tough assignment in Austria and Switzerland. They will play in Group C along with world champions Italy, France and Romania.

'It is a pity but I appreciate the fact that they informed us in time,' said KNVB director Henk Kesler.

'We will have time to see who will succeed them and Marco (van Basten) and John (van't Schip) made clear that they will focus completely on the coming tournament.'

Van Basten's decision has already triggered speculation about his future and who will succeed him as coach of the Netherlands team that will face Scotland, Norway, Macedonia and Iceland in the qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup.

The former European and World player of the year could return to his former club Ajax Amsterdam where he started his playing career and years later took his first steps as a coach when he managed the reserves with Van`t Schip.

Van Basten became Netherlands coach on the recommendation of Johan Cruyff, who is an advisor to the Dutch FA and Ajax.

The former national team striker could once again find himself being put forward as a candidate by Cruyff but this time in Amsterdam where Henk ten Cate resigned in October and Adri Koster was appointed until the end of the season.

Foppe de Haan, 64, has been named by Dutch media as being among the candidates to take over the Netherlands job.

De Haan guided the Netherlands Under-21 side to two successive European titles in 2006 and 2007 and is preparing his team for the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

He worked for Heerenveen for 20 years, and was head coach from 1993 to 2003 before joining the Dutch FA in 2004.

Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Martin Jol, who was sacked by the Premier League club in October, was also tipped to be among the likely candidates although KNVB director Kesler is on record saying Jol would not be an option if Van Basten quit.