Sept 12 (Reuters) - The Netherlands may have already sealed World Cup qualification before Friday's mauling of Hungary but coach Louis van Gaal insisted there was still plenty to play for and his players responded in emphatic style.
The Dutch ran riot at the Amsterdam Arena in an 8-1 success that emphasised a determination to complete their qualifying campaign with wins to improve their world ranking and also enhance individual chances of World Cup selection.
The coach had warned his squad before the game just three players - captain Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and midfielder Kevin Strootman - were guaranteed places on the plane to Brazil next year and the rest would have to show the requisite desire.
Van Gaal was obviously pleased with the response, led by a record-breaking hat-trick from Van Persie and with both Robben and Strootman scoring in the Group D encounter.
"I'm going to have a celebratory glass of wine," he told Dutch television station SBS6 afterwards as the statistics spoke of Dutch dominance in the qualifying group.
It was their eighth win in nine matches, pushed their points tally to 25 and gave them a goal difference of +27.
"The best thing about the evening was that we kept the opponent under pressure for 90 minutes with our pressing. We failed to do that in previous matches. The willingness of the team was enormous," the coach added.
Next up is a much more difficult trip to Istanbul to face Turkey on Tuesday in a game the Dutch must win to keep up their hopes of securing a World Cup seeding, according to Van Gaal
The seeds for the World Cup draw in Brazil in early December are to be determined by placings in the next FIFA rankings.
Hosts Brazil and the top seven teams in October's rankings, issued on Thursday, will be seeded for the eight first round groups at the draw in Salvador.
The Dutch are currently ranked ninth but Van Gaal said they had a good chance of climbing into the top seven with wins over Hungary and Turkey.
They achieved the first part of that assignment with some aplomb as Van Persie set a new scoring record for the national team, improving by one on Patrick Kluivert's mark of 40 goals.
The Netherlands were the first European side to book their place at the 2014 finals when they won in Andorra last month. Italy qualified on the same day, with Belgium, Germany and Switzerland joining them on Friday. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by John O'Brien)
- Sports & Recreation
- Arjen Robben
- Louis van Gaal
- Kevin Strootman
- Robin van Persie