RVP confident Dutch will top group
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Netherlands captain Robin van Persie says his Elftal are strong enough to overcome Chile in Sao Paulo to top Group B in his absence.
Van Persie is suspended for the match against the South Americans, who are already assured qualification to the last 16 round, alongside the Dutch.
Dynamo Kiev forward Jeremain Lens is tipped to replace Van Persie in the Arena Corinthians.
"I have no worries," the 30-year-old striker told reporters in a news conference at the Dutch training ground at Estadio da Gavea. "I'm absolutely convinced that the team can do well without me".
The Netherlands only need to draw with the Jorge Sampaoli-coached Chileans in the last game to finish first because of their superior goal-difference. The winner of Group B will avoid Group A's first team -- most likely to be hosts Brazil -- in the next round.
"I think it's better for us to be first in the group," Van Persie said. "I don't have a favourite [potential] opponent, we just have to come first and see what happens."
Regardless of their result, the Netherlands will only learn of their opponents a few hours later, when the last two games of Group A are being staged.
Van Persie, whose three goals saw the Netherlands become the first team at the World Cup to qualify for the knockout stages, hinted at the tournament format favouring the hosts.
"Brazil play after our game, which is interesting," he said.
Van Persie added that their 5-1 win in the opening game against Spain had acted as a huge confidence boost for a Dutch team that been low on confidence before the tournament.
"The result gave us the belief back," Van Persie said. "It wasn't there ahead of the World Cup. We feel that the whole country now stands behind us and believes in us. That makes me proud."