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Dutch boss van Gaal: We are here to be world champions

Netherlands' head Coach Louis van Gaal (L) and captain Virgil van Dijk attend a press conference one day ahead of their group A match against Senegal at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 20, 2022. (Xinhua/Ding Xu)

The Netherlands' head coach Louis van Gaal praised his squad and expressed the ambition to claim the World Cup title.

DOHA, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- Eyeing on the knock-out stage, Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands' head coach, expressed the ambition to claim the World Cup title here in Qatar.

During a pre-game press conference on Thursday, van Gaal said his 26-man squad this time could be better than in 2014.

"We have an average quality higher than in 2014. I'm not talking about the top players we had at the time, perhaps Memphis (Depay) is at that level and might reach that level," he said.

"But then the matches were decided by players like Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder. Now in our squad, we have a much higher average," the Dutch boss added.

Having grabbed three points after beating Senegal in their opening match, the Netherlands is ready to fight for the winner of Group A. However, their coach was reluctant to tell reporters his strategy when asked about how to be playing against their next opponent Ecuador.

"I cannot reveal more details because I would be showing my cards. Not even about names or strategies. But we are here to be world champions."

However, he highly praised the team who beat the host Qatar 2-0 at the World Cup opener.

"I think Ecuador are a more organized team than Senegal," he said, adding that when they played against more important teams they got to improve.

"We analyzed 15 national players of Ecuador in the past 18 months. It seems to me they don't score much, but they are a team who are difficult to score against," he added.

Speaking about the defeats of Argentina and Germany in the World Cup on previous days, van Gaal admitted that it is easier to defend than to attack in modern football.

"I heard that Germany missed a lot of chances and then they lose. This is got to do with team discipline," he concluded.

The clash between the Netherlands and Ecuador is set to take place at the Khalifa International Stadium, with the game kicking off at 7 p.m. local time on Friday. ■