Coventry set to leave Ricoh
Holland coach Louis van Gaal believes his side cannot afford to
take the challenge of Estonia lightly when the two teams meet in a
World Cup qualifier at the Amsterdam ArenA on Friday night.
The Dutch have enjoyed a flawless start to their Group D
campaign, with victories over Turkey, Hungary, Andorra and Romania
in their opening four fixtures.
Van Gaal’s men are three points clear at the top of the
standings and will face off against an Estonia side that have lost
three of their four matches, with their sole victory over group
But former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach Van Gaal is
refusing to believe the eastern Europeans will be a pushover.
“The expectations will be high, the audience will probably have
a score of 5-0 in their head,” he told a press conference.
“But that is just more difficult, especially given that the
system Estonia play, with two rows of four and just one
Van Gaal is likely to include Wesley Sneijder in his starting XI
after the playmaker missed the last four Holland games due to
injury and lack of match fitness, having been frozen out by former
club Inter Milan.
The 28-year-old’s move to Turkish outfit Galatasaray in January
has given him a new lease of life and his return will be a welcome
The group leaders are without Tim Krul due to ankle problem and
Klaas Jan Huntelaar (knee) although Maarten Stekelenburg is the
probable option between the posts after missing Holland’s last two
matches with an injury.
Hungary and Romania, both on nine points, are contesting a
play-off spot although they will be hoping to keep the pressure on
the Dutch when they clash at an empty Ferenc Puskas Stadium in
The Court of Arbitration for Sport last week rejected an appeal
from the Hungarian Football Federation against having to play
against Romania behind closed doors for racist behaviour by
FIFA’s disciplinary committee found a group of Hungary
supporters had chanted anti-Semitic abuse and displayed offensive
symbols in their friendly against Israel in Budapest last
Hungary boss Sandor Egervari is in confident mood despite the
fact they have been denied home support.
“Of course, we expect to win this ‘six-point’ game, especially
because we meet a rival, which is also a chance to better our
chances of finishing first or second in the group,” he said at a
Friday’s final group match sees Turkey travel to Andorra and
visiting coach Abdullah Avci insists his side will not be
underestimating the threat posed by Friday’s hosts.
Andorra have won just one competitive match – against Macedonia
at home in a 2006 World Cup qualifier – but Avci is not taking
victory for granted.
“A Turkish national football team will follow the opponent
extremely seriously,” the Turkey boss told reporters.
The League One club’s owners SISU are in talks over relocating
to an alternative home venue in the West Midlands after taking
action they believe will prevent the football business entering
administration at the High Court on Friday.
Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), who manage the Ricoh Arena, claim
?1.3m is owed in unpaid rent and want the football club placed in
administration – a penalty which usually carries a 10-point
deduction under Football League rules.
But on the eve of the hearing a statement on behalf of Coventry
City Football Club (Holdings) Ltd appeared on the club’s official
website announcing a “property subsidiary” was already in the hands
And, according to Sky sources, City believe their pre-emptive
action wipes out their debt to ACL while also putting them in
breach of contract with their landlords.
That means ACL can now prevent Coventry from playing future home
games at the Ricoh Arena, an outcome SISU have been preparing
In the meantime, Sky sources say SISU believe Friday’s
administration hearing will go their way and are confident of
avoiding a points deduction which would effectively finish off
City’s chances of winning promotion this season.
Steven Pressley’s side are currently three points off the
play-off places and are due to play Doncaster on 30 March in their
next scheduled home fixture.
The full statement from Coventry City Football Club (Holdings)
“It is important to stress that the football club itself is not
“This is merely a property subsidiary which owns no material
assets and has no employees, on or off the pitch.
“The Club can confirm that all staff wages, PAYE and all other
creditor commitments will continue to be met as before by Coventry
City Football Club Holdings.
“Unlike other instances of clubs being taken either wholly or
partially into administration, there are no HMRC or VAT
implications and the Football Club will continue to trade as normal
“Our main objective now is to remain competitive on the pitch
and give Steven Pressley and the playing staff our full backing and