For many of the world’s most professional footballers — even some of the most brilliant ones — the end of their playing careers signals the end their fame and “work” in the game.
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For some, it means it’s time to earn their coaching badges and begin the next stage of their careers, managing at the highest level. For former Netherlands striker Patrick Kluivert — still the national team’s second-most prolific goalscorer of all-time and former national team assistant to Louis van Gaal — it means trying to qualify the tiny Caribbean island country of Curacao, the 159th-ranked team in the world according to current FIFA rankings, for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
This week, Kluivert’s Curacao side defeated Montserrat, 4-3 on aggregate, to advance to the second round of CONCACAF’s five-round World Cup qualification process. The home-and-away tie, with Curacao away in the second leg, was tied 3-3 with minutes to play when former Netherlands Under-21 international Charlton Vicento broke the deadlock in the 87th minute, five minutes after coming on as a substitute.
Kluivert, who scored nearly 100 goals for Barcelona in his six-year stretch at the club, is the son of a Curacaoan mother.
In the second round, Curacao are set to play another home-and-away tie, this time against Cuba, on June 8 and 16.
Elsewhere in CONCACAF first round qualifying
Bahamas 0-8 Bermuda
British Virgin Islands 2-3 Dominica
Barbados 4-1 U.S. Virgin Islands
Saint Kitts and Nevis 12-4 Turks and Caicos Islands
Nicaragua 8-0 Anguilla
Belize (away-goals rule) 1-1 Cayman Islands