Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal has urged his players to beware of the threat posed by Ecuador as the teams prepare to meet in Group A of the FIFA World Cup.
The Netherlands will enter Friday’s match at Khalifa International stadium in Doha after a 2-0 defeat of Senegal in their opening match on Monday. Ecuador have had a day longer to prepare, having beaten hosts Qatar 2-0 on Sunday.
“They [Ecuador] are a stable team,” Van Gaal told a news conference. “They’re physically strong with very clever players, shrewd players, which is why I believe that they are tougher than Senegal.”
Van Gaal suggested that Memphis Depay could start against the South American side as he continues to recover from a high injury. The Barcelona forward made his first appearance for two months when he came off the bench for the final half hour of the win over Senegal.
“He has played 30 minutes and the next step would be 45 minutes,” said Van Gaal. “The injury he has makes it so difficult to decide when he can start so we have to look at him.
“But he is an extraordinary player and so I have set aside my principles because I consider him to be incredibly important to my team. I explained this to the players, that I am doing all this for Memphis, and the players accepted this.”
Earlier, Ecuador manager Gustavo Alfaro said he was hopeful Enner Valencia would be fit to play on Friday. The 33-year-old Fenerbahce forward was forced off injured after scoring both of Ecuador’s goals in the victory over Qatar.