Salvador: The Netherlands will be without Nigel de Jong for the rest of the World Cup as he has sustained an injury.
The 29-year-old was forced off nine minutes post start of the Oranje’s last-16 clash against Mexico on Sunday with a groin complaint. The Netherlands’ coach Louis van Gaal admitted after the 2-1 win that De Jong was a doubt for their quarter-final match against Costa Rica and the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) have now confirmed his tournament is over.
A post on their Twitter account, @KNVB, said: “Nigel de Jong has a tear in his groin muscle. He’s probably out for two to four weeks. De Jong continues rehabilitation with #Orange.”
With the World Cup final on July 13, the AC Milan midfielder would be up against it to recover on time. “A MRI at hospital confirmed that De Jong is struggling with a tear in his groin muscle,” the KNVB said in a statement.
“The 75-times capped international is, therefore, presumably out for two to four weeks. De Jong, who in last Sunday’s match against Mexico was injured after nine minutes, remains with the team in Brazil to work on his rehabilitation there.”
The Oranje are looking to reach their second-successive World Cup final and winger, Arjen Robben, speaking before the severity of the injury became clear, admitted De Jong’s absence would lead to a void.
“With de Jong’s injury, we have been dealt with a blow,” Robben said. “The possible absence of De Jong in the quarter finals is a huge loss. But our strength is that every player who comes off the bench on to the pitch manages to have a big impact on the match. The confidence within our team is very big, in spite of any absence,” he made it clear.
“De Jong had a small groin strain and I was forced to substitute him,” Van Gaal had explained after the match versus Mexico. “I don’t know if he will be available for the quarter final, though to be honest, it’s very unlikely he will be able to play the next match.
“He is one of my most important players, so this is an enormous loss for us.”
Van Gaal’s men reached the final four years ago only to lose to Spain in extra-time, with De Jong’s role as midfield enforcer memorably encapsulated by his ‘karate kick’ on Xabi Alonso for which he somehow did not get sent off.
It will be interesting to see how Netherlands cope up with the absence of De Jong, especially against an upbeat Costa Rican XI with a sky-high confidence, having reached the last eight for the very first time.