Ecuador, Dutch eye World Cup progression


Either Ecuador or the Netherlands can take a big step towards the second round of the World Cup if either can force victory at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Both teams have won their opener in Qatar and face each other on Friday (3am Saturday AEDT) in a decisive Group A encounter.

But while Ecuador have set their expectations to qualify for the round of 16 – as they did in Germany in 2006 – the Dutch will be looking for a vastly improved performance to back up coach Louis van Gaal’s claim according to which they can go on and win the world. Cup.

The Netherlands were far from the most effective as they beat African champions Senegal 2-0 in their first group game on Monday.

Van Gaal was pleased with the three points and justification for his surprise decision to give goalkeeper Andries Noppert a first international, but criticized the manner of victory, as did captain Virgil van Dijk.

“We won but we also know that we can and must do better,” said the skipper.

“Going forward, we sometimes tried to force things, and too often we left ourselves exposed to Senegal’s counter-attacks.

“It is an area where we will have to improve because it is an art in which our next opponents, Ecuador, are very good.

“But I’m optimistic because I feel we’re going to improve.”

Ecuador are confident that Enner Valencia, who scored both goals in their 2-0 win over Qatar on Sunday, will be fit to play despite concerns over a sprained knee.

Goalkeeper Hernan Galindez said Saudi Arabia’s surprise victory over Argentina on Tuesday proved no team was unbeatable.

“Argentina’s defeat will not be the last surprise of this World Cup,” he said.

“Despite the victory for the Netherlands, they were level against Senegal. There are certainly ways to hurt the Netherlands.

“It will be a difficult game, but I expect the Netherlands to approach us with respect.”

The Dutch are likely to give Memphis Depay a start. The Barcelona striker came off the bench against Senegal for his first game in two months after battling a hamstring injury.

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