Date: 20th June 2008 at 1:08pm
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Khalid Boulahrouz has told Netherlands coach Marco van Basten he is available to play in Saturday’s quarter-final against Russia despite the death of his baby daughter, who was born prematurely on Wednesday.

‘I understand that it is really hard for Khalid and we will have to support him as best we can,’ said Van Basten. ‘Still, our focus has to be on Russia and that is what Khalid also wants.’ The 26-year-old Boulahrouz, an ever-present so far in the Oranje defence, has been with his wife Sabia at a hospital in Lausanne, where she was taken after suffering complications with her pregnancy. He will have freedom to leave the Dutch camp as and when he chooses, explained Van Basten, who said: ‘He is always allowed to go and visit his wife.’

Looking ahead to the quarter-final meeting with a Russia team led by former Netherlands coach Guus Hiddink, Van Basten said: ‘I really find it nice for Guus. After a bit of a difficult start, Russia have started to play very well during this tournament. They are an attack-minded team, with technically skilled players.’ That said, Van Basten acknowledges that his side are favourites, adding: ‘I think this group can handle that.’

 

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