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Netherlands-Hungary Preview: Oranje could have a say in play-off race

Netherlands may have already qualified for Brazil 2014 but Louis van Gaal expects total commitment from his players when they face Hungary.

The Dutch were the first European nation to qualify for next year’s World Cup after their 2-0 win over Andorra last month in Group D, but with important ranking points available, the Orangje coach has urged his side to finish their qualification campaign on a high.

They take on second-placed Hungary on Friday as Sandor Egervari’s men battle Turkey and Romania for a play-off spot, with just one point separating the three sides with two games remaining.

Hungary got their campaign back on track with a 5-1 victory over Estonia in September but after not winning any of their previous three matches, they are left fighting to stay in contention for second place.

Facing a team who have sealed qualification, and therefore have nothing to play for, may have raised their hopes of a victory in Amsterdam, but Van Gaal is adamant that his players will be going all out for the three points.

“Outside [Arjen] Robben, [Robin] Van Persie, and [Kevin] Strootman, everyone should still [aim to] prove [themselves] to get a ticket to Brazil and they know that damn well,” the former Barcelona boss said.

“These are all test matches. There are plenty of challenges for the players, for me and the staff to prepare for these competitions and go.

“We are highly motivated and passionate. The people also see that, and it shows given the fact that we play Friday in a sold-out stadium.

“That’s a great compliment. Overall, I have nothing to complain about in terms of the commitment and passion of my group.”

Netherlands have won seven of their eight matches – drawing the other – on the way to sealing a place at their 10th World Cup finals.

The 2010 beaten finalists will be without Van Persie (toe), Gregory van der Wiel (knee), Stijn Schaars (knee) and Jonathan de Guzman (groin), but Leroy Fer and Nigel de Jong are back in the squad.

Adam Szalai has been ruled out for Hungary with flu, but may be fit for their clash with Andorra on Tuesday.

Wed 9 October, 2013
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