Advocaat: Dutch can still make World Cup

AMSTERDAM • Netherlands coach Dick Advocaat said on Tuesday that he was purely interested in gaining results rather than playing attractive football as the Dutch look to get their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.

Advocaat - who managed the Dutch national side from 1992-1994 and 2002-2004 - has returned for a third spell in charge after replacing Danny Blind, who was sacked in March after a 2-0 defeat by Bulgaria. That loss left them facing an uphill struggle to reach the World Cup Finals in Russia next year.

They are fourth in Group A, six points behind leaders France and three behind Sweden in second with five matches to play.

Only the group winners qualify automatically, with the runners-up potentially advancing to a two-legged play-off.

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Advocaat's first game in charge is tomorrow when the Dutch take on Luxembourg, needing victory to boost their flagging qualification chances.

"We are purely playing for results. The points are the most important," he told a news conference. "We will look at the situation match by match but the result is holiest."

The Dutch, who failed to qualify for Euro 2016, have slumped on the international stage following their third-place finish at the last World Cup in Brazil three years ago.

Netherlands captain Arjen Robben shielding the ball from Ivory Coast defender Simon Deli during a friendly in Rotterdam. The hosts won 5-0, with Robben scoring their second last Sunday.
Netherlands captain Arjen Robben shielding the ball from Ivory Coast defender Simon Deli during a friendly in Rotterdam. The hosts won 5-0, with Robben scoring their second last Sunday. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Their dip in form has left many, including Advocaat, stumped.

"It is something I want to understand and get to the bottom of and fix before our important games against France and Bulgaria in the next months," he said.

"Everything is focused on trying to get to the World Cup and we believe we can do that. There is the requisite quality in our squad.

"The most important thing is the game on Friday, and probably the players understand the importance of that game. I believe we can do it, otherwise I wouldn't have accepted the post."

He was not the favourite for the job, with the Dutch interviewing several candidates before settling on the 69-year-old.

His assistant is former Netherlands captain Ruud Gullit.

"An important task for Ruud will be with the players," Advocaat added.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2017, with the headline 'Advocaat: Dutch can still make World Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe