Nov 27 (Reuters) - Factbox on World Cup qualifiers
Form and prospects
The Dutch were the first European country to book their
place in Brazil, ending the year unbeaten in 13 games, but are
still far from the quality product that came so close to World
Cup success in 2010.
The likes of Nigel de Jong, Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie,
Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart are still regulars
after leading roles in helping the Dutch to reach the 2010
However, coach Louis van Gaal has overhauled the team in the
wake of a disappointing Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and
Ukraine, where the highly fancied Dutch lost all three of their
Van Gaal lost his first game back in charge but has gone 17
matches without defeat since a 4-2 friendly loss to Belgium.
They eased competently through their qualifying group as
they won nine of their 10 matches, scoring 34 goals and
conceding just five.
Top place was secured away in the restricted confines of the
tiny stadium in Andorra with two matches still to play.
The Dutch campaign included an 8-1 home thumping of Hungary
and impressive away victories in Bucharest and Istanbul but
recent friendlies have shown up some weaknesses although Van
Gaal has not been scared to give teenage talent like Memphis
Depay a run in the team.
Coach: Louis van Gaal.
Van Gaal, 62, began his second spell as coach of the Dutch
national team, replacing Bert van Marwijk, after the last
European Championship and will retire after the tournament in
He had failed to take the Netherlands to the 2002 finals in
Asia but made sure of redemption by steering the squad through a
near flawless campaign.
A strict disciplinarian, Van Gaal made his name at Ajax
Amsterdam where he won the Champions League in 1995 before
winning two Spanish titles with Barcelona.
He also won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in 2010 but was
fired before the end of the next season
Key player: Robin van Persie
The Manchester United striker captains the national side and
during the qualifying campaign broke the record for the most
goals by a Dutch international, overtaking Patrick Kluivert to
reach 41 goals in 79 appearances.
The 30-year-old scored 11 goals in the 2014 qualifying
campaign including a last gasp goal in Estonia, which kept up an
unbeaten record for the Dutch.
Van Persie broke through at Feyenoord but only won his first
cap after joining Arsenal.
His move from the London club to Manchester United was a
contentious affair last season, on top of a 22.5-million pound
fee, but he won league honours in his first campaign.
How they qualified: Winners European Group D
Sept 7 Turkey H W 2-0 Van Persie, Narsingh
Sept 11 Hungary A W 4-1 Lens 2, Indi Martins,
Oct 12 Andorra H W 3-0 Van der Vaart Huntelaar,
Oct 16 Romania A W 4-1 Lens, Indi Martins,
Van der Vaart pen
March 22 Estonia H W 3-0 Van der Vaart, Van Persie,
March 26 Romania H W 4-0 Van der Vaart, Van Persie 2
(1 pen), Lens
Sept 6 Estonia A D 2-2 Robben, Van Persie
Sept 10 Andorra A W 2-0 Van Persie 2
Oct 11 Hungary H W 8-1 Van Persie 3, Strootman,
Lens, Devecseri og,
Van der Vaart, Robben
Oct 15 Turkey A W 2-0 Robben, Sneijder
World Cup record:
Previous appearances: 9 (1934, 1938, 1974, 1978, 1990,
1994, 1998, 2006, 2010)
Best performances: Runners up 1974, 1978, 2010.
Odds: William Hill odds to win World Cup (Nov 2013): 16-1
(Compiled by Mark Gleeson, edited by Mike Collett)