Football

Dutch hand Advocaat boost ahead of vital qualifier

Holland warmed up for a vital 2018 World Cup qualifier next week with an emphatic 5-0 friendly win against Ivory Coast yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Dutch are struggling to make it to Russia next year, placed only fourth in Group A on seven points behind leaders France (13), Sweden (10) and Bulgaria (9).

With Dick Advocaat officially becoming their new coach today, it was assistant Fred Grim who was in charge for the Rotterdam encounter against an Ivory Coast side coached by ex- Belgium boss Marc Wilmots.

Capitalising on defensive errors, Holland went into the break three goals to the good, thanks to a double from Joel Veltman and an Arjen Robben penalty.

Davy Klaassen and Vincent Janssen completed the scoring deep in the second half.

This is Advocaat's third stint with the Oranje.

His first match in charge is the all-important qualifier against Luxembourg next Saturday morning (Singapore time), with France in Stockholm to take on Sweden.

"We have to pray that France beat the Scandinavians," said Dutch captain Robben. "If we beat Luxembourg, then we can still envisage taking second place to go into the play-offs."

Advocaat and former Ballon d'Or winner Ruud Gullit as assistant were drafted in on a "short-term" rescue mission by the Dutch federation, with the pair signing contracts till the end of the year.

Advocaat, a renowned disciplinarian, replaced Danny Blind who was sacked in March following a 2-0 defeat in Bulgaria.

FOUNDATION WORK

Grim said: "Dick Advocaat arrives on Tuesday to coach the team. I think I've done good work to prepare the ground for him.

"This win will give us confidence before the Luxembourg match which we absolutely have to win on Friday."

Over in Dublin, the Republic of Ireland carved out a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Uruguay, ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Austria in Dublin.

With Seamus Coleman recovering from a double leg fracture, Derby fullback Cyrus Christie deputised and scored his second international goal.

Ireland had taken a 28th-minute lead through skipper Jonathan Walters, with Jose Gimenez levelling before the break.

Christie's strike and a third from substitute James McClean rounded off a pleasing night for manager Martin O'Neill.

Ireland are on 11 points with Serbia who top Group D on goal difference.

The Austrians are fourth on seven points. - AFP

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