Dozy Babel faces Dutch axe nightmare

RYAN BABEL’S international future has been plunged into doubt after he was axed from Holland’s team for Saturday’s Euro 2008 qualifier with Romania for oversleeping.

Marco van Basten, the Holland manager, picked the former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben in place of Babel as a punishment after the Liverpool midfielder twice missed team meetings.

Van Basten said: “It was the second time that Babel overslept on a match day. That should never happen. That’s why I left him out of the team. Robben trained hard and he is fit, so he played instead.”

The Holland coach did allow Babel, who has struggled to establish himself at Anfield since his summer move from Ajax, a 12-minute cameo as a substitute but he admitted the 20-year-old might feel deflated by the snub.

He said: “It is very well possible that Babel feels disappointed. It is also not my style to handle these kinds of things this way. But we also expect that players obey rules during a match.

“The first time that he arrived too late, he settled the matter with a joke. The second time he joined us too late for the meal and that was a bit too much. He has to appear on time, just like all the others.”

Van Basten claimed “the luckiest team won” after seeing his side slump to a 1-0 defeat in wet and windy Constanta, a result which leaves the Oranje three points behind their opponents at the top of Group G.

The only goal of a hard-fought contest came with 19 minutes to go when Dorin Goian tapped home at the far post after the Holland goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg had palmed out Paul Codrea’s header.

The Dutch almost snatched a deserved equaliser in injury time but Rafael van der Vaart’s shot clipped a post.

“It was a mediocre game in which the luckiest side won,” van Basten said. “In the second half we had the wind in our back and you expected to see us put pressure on Romania, and pin them back in their own half. That did not happen.

“But this is not the end of the world. We still have our qualification for Euro 2008 in our own hands.”

Holland host Slovenia on Wednesday while third-placed Bulgaria, who are two points behind van Basten’s men, travel to Albania.

“We must make sure that we get at least seven points out of the last three games — then we will qualify,” van Basten added.

ROMANIA (4-4-2): Lobont, Goian, Ogararu, Rat, Tamas, Chivu, Nicolita, Codrea, Petre, Marica (Niculae 70), Mutu. Subs Not Used: Popa, Marin, Radu, Paraschiv, Dica, Bratu.

HOLLAND (4-3-3): Stekelenburg, Van Bronckhorst, Heitinga (Jaliens 68),Ooijer (Koevermans 84), Mathijsen, Bouma, De Zeeuw, Van der Vaart, Seedorf, van Nistelrooy, Robben (Babel 78). Subs Not Used: Timmer, Emanuelson, De Jong, Huntelaar.

REFEREE: Kyros Vassaras (Greece).

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