Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal has left the door open to a switch to Belgium following the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Belgium endured a dismal tournament as they failed to advance from Group F, which included Croatia, Morocco and Canada. Head coach Roberto Martinez’s contract was due to expire after this competition, and he left his role as Belgium manager following their goalless draw with Croatia on Thursday, a result that saw them finish third in the group.

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Van Gaal is leading the Netherlands at this World Cup and is preparing his team for their key round-of-16 match with the United States on Saturday. This will be his last World Cup in charge of the Dutch, with Ronald Koeman already confirmed as his successor.

Van Gaal is unbeaten as Netherlands manager and there has been some speculation in the Belgian press that they may look to him as a replacement for Martinez. When asked on Friday whether he would take the job, he responded: “Belgium is a wonderful country with really friendly people — Knokke[-Heist] is a wonderful beach town, so yes I’ve thought about it.”

He was then asked whether the Belgian FA would have to persuade not only Van Gaal to take the job, but also his wife, Truus.

“You have to convince Truus,” Van Gaal said, laughing. “Joking aside, I am always at liberty to take decisions myself but there are certain countries I won’t move to, and Truus won’t.

“I am here to talk about the Dutch team, we want to become world champions and then we’ll see if there are any offers on the table. In an interview with the Dutch media, I’ve said that if we’re world champions — everyone is opportunistic in football — there will be offers. But we’re not world champions yet, and if I believe the Dutch media, we will never be world champions.”

While it was widely expected this would be Van Gaal’s final role in management, the experienced 71-year-old has refused to confirm if he will retire after the World Cup. He has frequently referenced the opportunistic nature of football, saying that if his Dutch team do well here in Qatar then he will get offers from other teams and nations.

For so long, it looked like Manchester United would be his last role in football. He left Old Trafford in 2016 and spent time away from management, but when Frank de Boer left the Netherlands in the wake of their Euro 2020 campaign and with Koeman then at Barcelona, Van Gaal stepped into the breach.

Van Gaal was surprised by Belgium’s showing at this World Cup, and he expected them to be a force in the knockouts.

“We beat them in the last two matches but the players in their squad are marvellous,” Van Gaal said. “They should’ve won their last match and then they’d have qualified, football’s not only about techniques and tactics, but it’s also a bit of luck. If you’ve seen the referees that we’ve had here, then maybe we can start a discussion about that as well.”

Van Gaal was also asked whether he would be interested in taking charge of a team in Africa.

“I don’t think so — but you have to keep your options open — I am here working with the Dutch team,” he said. “If I talk about other countries, they won’t believe me anymore.”



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