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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Arjen Robben replaces Robin van Persie as new Netherlands captain

Friday proved to be a struggle for Dutch attackers Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie against Kazakhstan.
Arjen Robben will be Netherlands captain under new coach Danny Blind.

Arjen Robben has been made captain of the Netherlands in Danny Blind's first squad since taking over from Guus Hiddink as national coach, replacing striker Robin van Persie.

Blind said on Friday he needs a captain with more "on-field presence" as his team heads into two crucial European Championship qualifiers against Group A leader Iceland and Turkey.

"I have not made this choice based on their soccer skills," Blind told the Dutch federation's website.

"In the guidance and coaching of teammates Van Persie and Robben are not inferior to each other -- but they are two different personalities and right now I need a leader with [Robben's] on-field presence."

Robben said: "I consider it a great honour that the coach has asked me to be captain and will fulfil this role with great pride and responsibility.

"But I also want to emphasise that we should do it right, all together. We have a common goal -- to make the European Championships."

Van Persie said he understood Blind's decision.

"I have had a good talk with the coach, who indicated his understanding to choose his own captain in this new project," the Fenerbahce striker said.

"I've always said Arjen, I and the other guys did it together. I will fill the role of vice-captain with pride. I will always give everything for my country."

Blind, who replaced Hiddink last month after the veteran trainer's contract was terminated following a disappointing start to the Netherlands' qualification campaign, gave two teenaged Ajax defenders, Jairo Riedewald and Kenny Tete, debuts in the national squad.

Netherlands are third in qualifying Group A, five points adrift of Iceland and three points behind Czech Republic.

The Dutch take on Iceland on Thursday at the Amsterdam ArenA and travel to Turkey for Sunday's game in Konya.

Ajax defenders Jairo Riedewald and Kenny Tete have been named in a 23-man squad for the matches.

The squad: Ibrahim Afellay (Stoke City), Vurnon Anita (Newcastle United), Daley Blind (Manchester United), Jeffrey Bruma (PSV Eindhoven), Jasper Cillessen (Ajax Amsterdam), Memphis Depay (Manchester United), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Luuk de Jong (PSV Eindhoven), Davy Klaassen (Ajax Amsterdam), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord Rotterdam), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Bruno Martins Indi (FC Porto), Luciano Narsingh (PSV Eindhoven), Robin van Persie (Fenerbahce), Quincy Promes (Spartak Moscow), Jairo Riedewald (Ajax Amsterdam), Arjen Robben (Bayern München), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Kenny Tete (Ajax Amsterdam), Stefan de Vrij (Lazio Roma), Gregory van der Wiel (Paris Saint-Germain), Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle United), Jeroen Zoet (PSV Eindhoven)

Information from The Associated Press and Press Association was used in this report.

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