29 March, 2017
Following Saturday's damaging 2-0 World Cup qualification defeat to Bulgaria, Netherlands have sacked head coach Danny Blind.
The loss in the Bulgarian capital saw the Dutch drop to fourth place in Group A at the halfway stage of the qualifying campaign.
"We were on the right track, Bulgaria was as far as I'm concerned an incident", said Blind, who was unable to mastermind competitive wins over any teams better than Kazakhstan, Belarus and Luxembourg during a reign in which his side lost Euro 2016 or World Cup 2018 qualifiers against Iceland, Turkey, Czech Republic, France and Bulgaria.
Blind's assistant Fred Grim will take charge of the team for today's friendly against Italy in Amsterdam, the Dutch football federation (KNVB) said.
And De Ligt was culpable for Bulgaria's fifth-minute opener, his failure to deal with a long ball capitalised on by Spas Delev for his first Bulgaria goal.
Olivier Giroud's 22nd global goal gave Didier Deschamps' team the lead, but the host leveled six minutes later when Aurelien Joachim converted a penalty to become the first Luxembourg player to score against France in 39 years.
Blind replaced De Ligt at half-time, but by then the game was already beyond Oranje, who drop to fourth in Group A and are in real danger of missing out on a second successive major global tournament following their failure to reach Euro 2016.More news: Gunman barricades himself in bus in Las Vegas
Netherlands captain Arjen Robben stuck by his coach after the match, saying the players were also responsible.
At just 17 years of age, the highly-rated Ajax central defender was the youngest player to turn out for Oranje since 1931, but it was a painful introduction to global football for a man who had made just 14 senior appearances prior to Saturday's meeting, which marked the halfway point on the road to Russian Federation.
After the match Blind questioned whether he was still the man for the job.
"We hope to have a new coach in place quickly but it won't be ready in one week", KNVB technical director Jean Paul Decossaux said on Sunday. "I do not know why we started so poorly".
"Ronald Koeman is undoubtedly capable, but I know he is under contract with a club". "Where the Dutch used to be the great thinkers of the game and you'd always see some kind of influence from Louis van Gaal or Johan Cruyff or Rinus Michels before that, there's now an absolute drought of talented coaches in the Netherlands".
"It was a painful defeat in Sofia, during which the chances of the Netherlands qualifying for the World Cup diminished".