11 Apr 2019

Sport: Dutch football great to coach Solomon Islands

12:27 pm on 11 April 2019

Taking the helm of the Solomon Islands football team is a once in a lifetime opportunity, new coach Wim Rijsbergen says.

Wim Rijsbergen with Moses K. Mosé, Solomon Islands EU Ambassador.

Wim Rijsbergen with Moses K. Mosé, Solomon Islands Ambassador to Brussels Photo: Netherlands Oceania Support Foundation

The 67-year-old, who's been the head coach of Indonesia and Trinidad and Tobago, played for the Netherlands at the 1974 and 78 World Cups alongside football legend Johan Cruyff.

After signing a short term contract with the Solomons, Rijsbergen said he was curious about football in Oceania.

"What a great opportunity to get to know other people, to get to know football in that part of the world," he said.

"This is not a job to make a lot of money, you have to enjoy it.

"I am travelling for many, many years as a coach all over the world so I though why not, once in a lifetime."

As part of their build up to the Pacific Games in July, the Solomons team will travel to the Netherlands for a training camp in the second half of May when Rijsbergen will meet his charges for the first time.

"They will send me footage from some games because I know nothing about them," he said.

"It will also be a surprise when the selection comes over because I don't make the selection.

"From there, we start to work and maybe improve the game. We'll try to organise some friendly games in the Netherlands and then on the way back we'll try to organise another game or two when we are back in Solomon Islands."

No caption

Photo: Solomon Islands Football Federation

Mindful of the opportunity to develop coaching in Oceania, Rijsbergen said he hoped the team's current coaching staff would also come to the camp.

"Absolutely, because I don't want to be the wise guy to know everything about (Solomons) football. And what you try to do is improve coaching over there," he said.

The Dutchman's 50-year career in football included a stint at the New York Cosmos, playing with Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto.

But while he played as a defender, Rijsbergen said his coaching style favoured the Netherlands' attacking brand of football.

"In Holland, we all play offensive football. Most of the teams play 4-3-3 and I think that's still the best system but it depends on the players you have," he said.

"I was talking to the (Solomons) ambassador and he said 'we have to play Total Football'.

"I said 'if we have the players, we can do that'."

Rijsbergen was a part of the Dutch team that made the Total Football style famous as it won through to the 1974 World Cup final.

A file picture dated 26 June 1974 shows Johan Cryuff, then captain of the Dutch national team, on his way to scoring the 4-0 goal against Argentina at the 1974 FIFA World Cup in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Photo: ROLAND SCHEIDEMANN/dpa 

Dutch captain Johan Cruyff on his way to scoring against Argentina at the 1974 World Cup in Germany. Photo: AFP

"Everybody remembers that part of football in the 70s. Manchester City is playing the same as when Cruyff was coach and Guardiola was playing for him. So you see how successful they can be," he said.

"It's beautiful to watch and we will try to do the same thing. I'm not sure that the selection of the Solomons will be the same as the Dutch team as the 70s but it doesn't matter."

Having coached in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South and Central America, Rijsbergen said he could be tempted to extend his time in Oceania.

"After the Pacific Games, maybe I will stay and travel around Australia and New Zealand. If we enjoy being there it could be the start of a longer period.

"Hopefully we will find another Messi in the Solomons."