Van Gaal led Netherlands to a third-place finish at the 2014 World Cup.
Louis van Gaal has emphasised his belief that the Netherlands can win the World Cup 2022. The Dutch side played a 1-1 draw against Ecuador in their second group match. They defeated Senegal in their opening game so they have a strong chance to finish at the top.
The Oranje are unbeaten in 17 matches and they will now face Qatar in their final group-stage game.
Netherlands boss Van Gaal told a press conference ahead of the contest against the hosts: “I hope this (saying the target is to win the competition) is no pressure at all.
“Because I think you always have to identify the goal, the purpose for which you are here, and then you can work your way towards that purpose. If you don’t identify that purpose and say ‘the last 16 or the quarter-finals is enough’, that isn’t the right way to do things.
“I never said we’re going to become world champion, I said we can become it, that we have a chance, and the players have also become convinced of that.”
Van Gaal is in his third spell as Dutch head coach and oversaw a third-placed finish at the 2014 World Cup. He has been critical of his team’s play in terms of ball possession in the last two games and said he was looking for an improvement on that front on Tuesday.
But he was defensive of his players overall, saying: “By and large they have performed really well in the squad for us and I’m just assuming that will continue to happen.
“I try to make sure every player reaches his full potential, and I’m quite successful. We are unbeaten for 17 matches and if you look at the goal difference, I think that we deserve some respect.”
Cody Gakpo has scored in both group games, and Van Gaal said of the forward: “I had more or less expected he would evolve this way, but I believe he’s going to evolve even further, much further. I’m not surprised, but it’s marvellous he can do this on the world stage.”
The group sees the Netherlands and Ecuador on four points. Qatar is already knocked out and Senegal have three points. Netherlands is likely to win against Qatar. The contest between Ecuador and Seengal will decide the second team from group H.
Boss Felix Sanchez said: “We need to take into consideration our context. We are a country with a reduced population, this is our first World Cup, our first experience in such a tournament.
“I don’t feel disappointed or embarrassed. I think these players have shown they can compete in many competitions. A World Cup is the most demanding competition.
“Obviously, we all think things didn’t turn out well, or at least as we expected them, but also we are still slightly behind.
“We can come back to this tournament and show a more competitive level, but this is part of a process. The country will continue working so that the next time Qatar comes to a World Cup, hopefully soon, we will be able to compete better than we did this time.”