Netherlands coach Marco van Basten believes his squad are capable of winning a major championship after they qualified for UEFA EURO 2008™ with a game to spare.
Striker Danny Koevermans scored his first international goal two minutes before half-time on Saturday to secure a 1-0 home victory over Luxembourg in Group G. "We have a lot of players with good attacking qualities and that is a luxury, but most of them are young boys who need to mature," Van Basten said. "With more experience, we will have a chance to clinch a major title."
Unusually, the Netherlands started with a 4-4-2 system in Rotterdam with Clarence Seedorf, Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder as attack-minded midfielders behind the two forwards, Koevermans and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Van Basten had been forced to change his tactical plan by the absence of Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, among others, yet also because of a lack of goals during this qualification campaign.
In eleven matches the Oranje have registered 14 goals, the fewest of the countries that, so far, have qualified for next year's finals. "Several of my players preferred to start like this, and it worked if you see the number of chances we created," added Van Basten. "Van der Vaart, Sneijder and Seedorf need freedom and with their skills we created the opportunities. Throughout qualifying we have made chances but we haven't scored enough, and that is essential in football."
Despite the dearth of goals, the Netherlands are level on 26 points with fellow qualifiers Romania at the Group G summit, just edged into second place due to an inferior head-to-head record. They conclude their campaign in Belarus on Wednesday, when Romania entertain Albania. The draw for the tournament in Austria and Switzerland will take place on 2 December in Lucerne.
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