Strootman: Dutch must top Group D

Stand-in captain Kevin Strootman has demanded Holland take another "giant step" towards the World Cup in their qualifying double-header against Andorra and Romania.

Football News: Kevin Strootman

Having won their first two games against Turkey and Hungary last month and with the Pyrenean minnows unlikely to provide much of an obstruction at De Kuip tomorrow [Friday], the Oranje should be looking for a fourth successive win when they run out in Bucharest on Tuesday

And Strootman, who will lead the side in the absence of Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt, is focused on achieving that aim and pushing on to top Group D.

"We must finish first," he told De Telegraaf.

"We are on the right track and can take a giant step against Andorra and Romania. With four wins from the first four qualifying matches, we would not have the option to fail.

"We fear no one in our group, we go to all countries to win - especially after such a good start.

"There was a lot of pressure against Turkey and the game was perhaps not great, but the relief was enormous. After a few weeks, no one remembers how it came about, just that we won 2-0.

"If we beat Andorra, I would sign for a similar victory to that against Romania."

The PSV Eindhoven midfielder was a surprise choice as captain, particularly after not making a single appearance during this summer's European Championship.

But coach Louis van Gaal, who has given widespread opportunities to young players since taking over after the tournament for his second spell in the role, has faith in the 22-year-old's leadership qualities.

"Due to the injury of regular captain Wesley Sneijder and with vice-captain Dirk Kuyt not playing, I was without a captain and I had to appoint a third man," Van Gaal told De Telegraaf.

"Wes is in the middle age group and Kuyt is one of the oldest players. For me it was only logical to choose someone from the younger generation. See it as a trainee captain.

"Kevin is definitely a leader on the field, we have seen that with PSV, but must learn a lot beyond that. He is not as vocal, that is his character, but you can be taught."

Aside from Sneijder, PSV defender Jetro Willems pulled out with a knee injury and Joris Mathijsen and Arjen Robben will both miss the Andorra match but could return in Romania.

Gregory van der Wiel was left out after struggling to secure a place in Paris St Germain's team this season while there is also no place for FC Twente's Brazil-born defender Douglas, who had been included in the provisional squad for his first call-up.

With Holland's Under-21 team in European Championship play-off action against Slovakia, Jeroen Zoet, Jordy Clasie, Adam Maher and Luuk de Jong have all been released to feature in that game.

Andorra coach Koldo Alvarez opted to cut his initial 25-man squad down to the 18 who will feature in his matchday squad, meaning no places for Oscar Sonejee, Manolo Jimenez, Jordi Rubio, Ludovic Clement, Gabi Riera, Joaquim Salvat or third-choice goalkeeper Ivan Perianez.



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