AMSTERDAM (AP) — New Netherlands coach Guus Hiddink recalled midfielder Ibrahim Afellay for his team's opening European Championship qualifier against the Czech Republic and a warm-up friendly against Italy as he begins building on the legacy of Louis van Gaal's World Cup campaign.
Afellay, who is on loan to Olympiakos from Barcelona, has had an injury-plagued career since moving from PSV Eindhoven — where Hiddink gave him his first-team debut — to Barcelona. His last international appearance was almost two years ago.
Veteran midfielder Rafael van der Vaart and Stoke City defender Erik Pieters also are back in the Dutch squad for Hiddink's first matches since taking over from Van Gaal after the Netherlands' third-place finish at the World Cup.
Van der Vaart missed the World Cup through injury, but Hiddink still appears to want his experience in the squad alongside a player tipped by many as his long-term replacement, Ajax midfielder Davy Klaassen.
Hiddink's 25-man squad is based around the successful team beaten by Argentina in a semifinal penalty shootout in Brazil. Van Gaal's team then beat demoralized host Brazil 3-0 to earn third place.
Manchester United striker Robin van Persie is expected to keep the captain's armband and play up front alongside World Cup star Arjen Robben.
Continue reading this story on the...