INTERNATIONAL football fanatic Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at Sunday’s friendly international between Netherlands and Ivory Coast.
Netherlands v Ivory Coast | Sunday 18:30
Dick Advocaat’s third stint as Netherlands head coach hasn’t yet started since the Fenerbahce boss must oversee the end of the current Turkish season so interim boss Fred Grim will once again take charge of Oranje here.
Grim was in the dugout for last midweek’s 2-1 triumph over Morocco in Agadir and whilst the caretaker boss will be keen to sign-off in style, the bigger picture for Holland is a crucial World Cup qualification clash with Luxembourg next week.
The Dutch are lounging down in fourth place in their World Cup qualification group after picking up just seven points from their first five matches, prompting the country’s FA to bring the veteran Advocaat back into the fold.
Big names returning
The Netherlands’ squad has at least been boosted by captain Arjen Robben, Kevin Strootman, Georginio Wijnaldum, Daley Blind and Davy Klaassen all joining the squad since the Moroccan match although Matthijs de Ligt will miss out following his red card last week.
Wesley Sneijder travelled back to Turkey for Galatasaray’s final league game on Saturday but will return to camp in order to play some part and equal Edwin van der Sar’s record of 130 caps for the national team.
So the Oranje’s attacking arsenal appears strong for the Rotterdam outing but Grim and Advocaat will probably want to put extra emphasis on a defence that’s been shipping goals far too easily over the past two years.
The Dutch have recorded a solitary clean sheet in 19 matches, leaking goals to the likes of Luxembourg, Kazakhstan and Belarus in that period. But with such quality going forward, Holland have been a regular winner for Bot Teams To Score backers and that’s the angle of attack best suited for Sunday.
It’s available to support at odds-against quotes of 11/10 (888) despite having provided profit in 14 of the Netherlands’ last 17 internationals.
Africans on the road to recovery
Ivory Coast were held to a 1-1 draw with Benin in Marc Wilmots’ first appearance as Les Elephants’ coach last Wednesday – a ninth stalemate in 15 fixtures for the guests – whom are looking to recover following an embarrassing group stage exit in the African Cup of Nations earlier this year.
An AFCON qualification clash with Guinea next week is of far more value to the visitors but don’t expect the two-time African champions to shut up shop here. China-based Gervinho is back in the squad for the injured Salomon Kalou and Les Elephants have a history of opening up in friendly encounters.
With neither team particularly keen on imposing a defensive approach on the contest, goals could flow and backing BTTS at odds-against seems a sensible selection to consider.
Netherlands v Ivory Coast – Both Teams To Score (11/10 888)