Soccer-Friendship and harmony could be key to Euro 2020 success-Dutch coach

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FILE PHOTO: UEFA Nations League - League A - Group 1 - Netherlands v Bosnia and Herzegovina
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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Friendships between the players and harmony in the Netherlands squad could hold the key to a successful European Championship, coach Frank de Boer said on Wednesday.

The Dutch national team has had its problems in the past with strong personalities clashing and De Boer insisted a peaceful camp was a far better option than a selection of strong, hard-headed individuals.

"This Dutch national team is a team of friends, guys who work for each other and are good for each other. I think it's nice to see. That was also the case at the European Championship in 2000 and just like at the 1998 World Cup, where we also reached the semi-finals," De Boer said in an interview with Dutch media.

"Look at the team at the 1990 World Cup. That was not a team of friends and I think it did not end well. And neither did the 1996 European Championship. I am firmly convinced that you have to create a fantastic atmosphere during a tournament. And, of course, results help," the 51-year-old added.

But it was still important to be competitive and keep pushing each other for places in the team, he said.

"You should not shirk from tough tackles during a training session, but after that you shake hands."

De Boer said his major concern was a lack of experience among his squad. Of the 34 players he named last week in a preliminary selection, only nine have played at a major tournament.

"Missing the last European Championship in 2016 and the World Cup 2018 has created a gap. That's a shame," the coach added.

As for the prospects of his team at next month's tournament, where the Netherlands take on Austria, North Macedonia and Ukraine in Group C, De Boer said: "We are going for the trophy, but then everything has to go well.

"Belgium, France, Spain ... those are the top favourites. And look at Portugal, they also have a fantastic team. Germany and England too. I think we are somewhere in the top eight sides."

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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