AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Netherlands captain Arjen Robben has urged his teammates not to underestimate their ability and believe in their potential to upset France tonight and get their World Cup hopes back on track.
The Dutch sit third in the Group A standings, three points adrift of joint leaders France and Sweden and a second loss of the qualifying campaign to France could effectively end their hopes of a place at next year’s finals in Russia.
“Of course, France have, in terms of quality, a really good team, but I don’t want to talk about them. I think we must not think that we are not as good, we must be convinced of our own qualities and believe that we can beat them,” Robben told reporters.
“I’m always very positive. We can well say that it will be difficult because France have a better team, but if you think like that, then you might as well stay at home,” he added.
“We must go to Paris with conviction. It is a bit like the situation at the World Cup in 2014. If you believe in something and have the requisite ambition, you can go far.”
The unrated Dutch finished third in the last World Cup in Brazil after initially being heavily criticised for changing their tactical approach.
But they missed out on qualifying for the 2016 European Championship and have struggled in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Defeat in Sofia by Bulgaria in March cost Danny Blind his job as coach with Dick Advocaat returning in his place.
“I want to see conviction, not angst,” Robben said.
“And organisationally everything must click. If you don’t have as much individual quality as some of the top footballing countries, then you have to approach games cleverly.”