World Cup: Netherlands wish to make it count
The Netherlands are on the verge of reaching the knockout stage at the World Cup and an overwhelming favourite in their final Group A match on Tuesday against host nation Qatar.
If the Dutch advance, it will put more focus on 71-year-old coach Louis van Gaal, who stepped out of retirement just over a year ago to take over the national team while being treated for aggressive prostate cancer.
Qatar have lost their first two matches and have been knocked out.
For the Netherlands, a draw will suffice to advance and put them into contention again in a World Cup after failing to qualify four years ago.
The Dutch could even get through with a loss if Ecuador beat Senegal in the other Group A match.
In the round of 16, the Netherlands would face one of the top two teams from Group B, where England are the favourite with Iran, Wales, and the United States scrambling for a spot.
Van Gaal said before the World Cup that the Netherlands can win it all, although few see this as one of the country’s best teams.
No powerful soccer nation has come up short at the World Cup as often as the Dutch, who have been the runners-up three times: in 1974 against West Germany, in 1978 facing Argentina, and in 2010 versus Spain.
The Dutch also finished third in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after losing a shootout against Argentina in the semi-finals. Maybe this will be their year.