Van Gaal injures hip ahead of crucial World Cup qualifier

ZEIST, Netherlands (AP) — The Netherlands has an unexpected injury to contend with ahead of the team’s crucial World Cup qualifying match against Norway: Coach Louis van Gaal hurt his hip in a fall and had to be driven to training Monday in a golf cart.

The 70-year-old coach said he can still do his job despite falling and hurting himself on Sunday. During the training session, Van Gaal remained seated in the cart and gave instructions to one of his assistants, Danny Blind, who passed them on to the players.

“Physically, (I’m) not good, but the brain is still working,” Van Gaal said, adding he was in “a lot of pain. That’s why I am sitting in a wheelchair.”

The Netherlands blew a two-goal lead against Montenegro on Saturday in a 2-2 draw when victory would have guaranteed qualification for the World Cup in Qatar. The Netherlands has a far superior goal difference over Turkey and Norway, which are two points behind the Dutch. A draw on Tuesday in Rotterdam should be enough to ensure the team advances to next year’s tournament.

Central defender Stefan de Vrij left the Dutch training camp Sunday with an injury he picked up against Montenegro and will not be available for Tuesday’s game.

The match will be played at an empty Kuip Stadium in Rotterdam because of lockdown measures that came into force over the weekend amid soaring COVID-19 infections in the Netherlands.

Van Gaal said staff at the stadium are looking into how to get him to the dugout for the match.

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