Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk insisted his side will improve at the FIFA World Cup after a blunt attacking performance on Friday in a 1-1 draw with Ecuador that left them waiting to secure a place in the last 16.
“Of course, that is pretty obvious,” Van Dijk said when asked if the Dutch needed to do better after the draw at Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium which nevertheless extended their unbeaten run to 17 games.
“I think we have shown pretty high levels -- we are unbeaten (in 17) so there is a reason for that.
“We know that in ball possession that we can do better, but we are at the start of the tournament. We will improve.”
The Netherlands took the lead through Cody Gakpo’s early strike but that proved to be their only attempt on target and they were fortunate not to concede again after Enner Valencia equalised for Ecuador at the start of the second half.
Louis van Gaal’s side now go into their last game against already-eliminated Qatar level on four points with Ecuador at the top of Group A and needing at least a draw with the hosts to be sure of a place in the next round.
“Now it is time to recover. We have everything in our own hands. We have to be ready for Qatar and show a very good performance there and hopefully win the game,” Van Dijk added.
Meanwhile, Liverpool star Van Dijk’s defensive colleague Nathan Ake admitted that Ecuador were the better side in the second half after getting their equaliser.
“Today again we didn’t play great and in the end we can be happy with the point,” said Ake, with Friday’s result following an opening 2-0 win against Senegal.
“On the ball we have to improve so much to get control of the game. Today, especially second half we didn’t have any control of the game.
“They created the chances, they were stronger than us. There is so much to improve but luckily we have another game to put it right and if we win that game we qualify and get the momentum going.”