Ronald Koeman will apologise to Northern Ireland's Michael O'Neill 'if he needs to'
Watch Northern Ireland vs the Netherlands live on Sky Sports Football from 7.15pm on Saturday; Kick-off 7.45pm
By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 15/11/19 9:40pm
Ronald Koeman says "if he needs to apologise he will" for describing Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland as "terrible to watch".
Koeman's comments came after the Netherlands beat Northern Ireland 3-1 at Windsor Park in October, in a match where O'Neill's side took a 1-0 lead after 75 minutes only for Koeman's team to reply with three late goals.
The Netherlands were frustrated for the majority of the game, promoting the remarks, but as both teams prepare for the reverse fixture - live on Sky Sports Football - Koeman accepts his words may have been too strong.
"Of course I was a little bit irritated after the game in the way they wasted time from minute one and the referee did nothing against that and that was my irritation," he told Sky Sports.
"My irritation was not coming out of how they played because they showed a difficult team to beat, they showed the spirit that you would expect from them.
"The reaction of their manager is okay, I accept it, and maybe the words that I used at the time were a little bit harsh and if I need to apologise for that I will do it."
The former Southampton and Everton manager doubted his words would do anything more to motivate Northern Ireland.
"If they like to take it as extra motivation ... good luck," Koeman told reporters. "On the other side, I was not talking about how they played, I have a lot of respect that, with the quality of the players, they gave so much against us.
"They were really difficult to beat but my irritation after the game was about wasting time from minute one in the game and the referee didn't do anything against that.
"But if I used the wrong words then, yes, I can feel sorry about that. If they find it disrespectful, yes, I didn't mean for them to be disrespected."
O'Neill, who spoke shortly before Koeman on Friday, had anticipated Koeman's clarification and dismissed suggestions his side had wasted time excessively.
"We looked at the last 10 games Holland played and the ball in play between us was 57 minutes, which ranked fifth," O'Neill said. "So other teams have wasted more time than we wasted."
Koeman was told of O'Neill's retort and could only try to make his point again.
"OK, I didn't know that," he said. "I knew we had more ball possession but it was one minute extra time by half-time.
"The corner-kicks, free-kicks, throw-ins, they took all the time for that which is OK, but I expect the referee to punish that and not to punish the goalkeeper by yellow carding after 75 minutes (Bailey Peacock-Farrell was booked in the 53rd minute of the match)."
The back-and-forth has added a little extra spice to the qualifier, which Northern Ireland must win to keep even the faintest hope of automatic qualification alive while the Netherlands need only a point to book their ticket to Euro 2020 and end a long wait to return to a major competition.