THE HAGUE - Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal has revealed two of his players refused to step up to take the first penalty in Wednesday's 4-2 World Cup semi-final shoot-out loss to Argentina.
The ill-fated honour eventually fell to defender Ron Vlaar, whose effort was saved by Argentina keeper Sergio Romero.
"I asked two players ahead of Vlaar to take the first penalty," van Gaal told Dutch news agency ANP.
"They refused. Vlaar in my view was our best player. Unfortunately he didn't score," the Manchester United-bound coach added.
When the ill-fated honour eventually fell to defender Ron Vlaar, his effort was saved by Argentina keeper Sergio Romero. PHOTO/AFP
The Netherlands fans watched on as their side got beaten on penalities. PHOTO/AFP
And it was a moment for celebration for Argentina, who face Germany in the final this Sunday. PHOTO/AFP
Unlike in the quarter-finals against Costa Rica, the Dutch fell down in the penalty shootout, with both Vlaar -- who played a brilliant game until then -- and veteran Wesley Sneijder failing to score against Romero.
"Our penalties against Costa Rica were incredible. That should have given us confidence," said van Gaal.
"You have to maximise the first penalty shot," he added.
Van Gaal said he would have brought in replacement goalkeeper Tim Krul, who faced the penalties shootout and saved the day against Costa Rica, to take over from regular goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.
"But I've already used my three substitutes at that time."
"In the end Romero stopped two penalties," he said.
Argentina face Germany in sunday's final while van Gaal's Holland take on Brazil in the third place play-off 24 hours earlier.