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Sports

Dutch Coach OK with Van der Vaart Move

SV Hamburg midfielder Rafael van der Vaart insists his move to Germany will not hinder his chances of securing a spot in the Netherlands team for the 2006 World Cup. Many questioned the logic when van der Vaart opted to join Hamburg from Ajax in a 5.1-million euro move this summer but the 22-year-old claims national coach Marco van Basten was happy about the switch. "The national team is not a problem," van der Vaart said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper. "Our coach Marco van Basten watches the Bundesliga and we speak on the phone. He is glad that I am playing in Germany with Hamburg." Van der Vaart made his debut in Hamburg's 3-0 win over FC Nuremberg on the first day of the season and scored a brilliant free kick for his first goal a week later. He admitted the Bundesliga was a step up from the Dutch top-flight. "The Bundesliga is much stronger than the Eredivisie," he said. "At home there are only three good clubs - Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord. In Germany there are good players and fantastic stadiums. I think the Bundesliga is one of the top four leagues in Europe." Former Dutch icon Johan Cruyff was a strong critic of van der Vaart's move to Germany - claiming it was a major step backwards - but the playmaker does not worry what others think. "I am not concerned what Johan Cruyff said. It was my decision," he added. "In the Netherlands everyone was asking me 'What did you want to go to Hamburg for?' They said it rained and the club was not that great, but I love it here."

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