Dutch keeper Noppert plays down Messi threat

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Netherlands goalkeeper Andries Noppert said he is not overly concerned about the threat posed by Argentina captain Lionel Messi ahead of the team's World Cup quarterfinal duel on Friday.

Lionel Messi (R) of Argentina kicks the ball during the Group C match between Poland and Argentina at the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 30, 2022. (Xinhua/Cao Can)

Messi has been in impressive form in Qatar, scoring three times in four games to help the Albiceleste into the last eight for the first time since 2014.

"He is a great player but he also makes mistakes," Noppert told reporters. "We have seen him in this tournament. He is like us, a human being. Of course he is good but he can also make mistakes."

Noppert has been a revelation for the Dutch at this World Cup, having made his international starting debut in the team's opening match of the tournament against Senegal.

The Heerenveen player said he will be eternally grateful for the confidence instilled in him by manager Louis van Gaal.

"A good coach is someone who also works with the players who are not playing well and who are still fighting to get into the team," the 28-year-old said. "That's the most important thing."

He added: "It's true that this [playing in the World Cup] is new for me, but it's a good test. I just have to be myself. The teammates and the coaches accept it. I try to do it my way. It's a different world for me, but that's not going to change me."

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