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Netherlands keen to avoid Sweden in World Cup knockouts

Netherlands coach Andries Jonker wants to avoid Sweden in the Women’s World Cup last 16 but warned his side against taking Vietnam lightly in their final group game on Tuesday.

The 2019 runners-up need only a draw against the winless Vietnamese in Dunedin to advance, having beaten Portugal 1-0 and held holders the United States to a 1-1 draw.

The US and Dutch sit level in Group E on four points but the Americans boast a superior goal difference of two going into their own final group game, against Portugal.

A sizeable win over Vietnam could propel Jonker’s team to top spot, with the coach fully aware the second-placed side will almost certainly meet red-hot Sweden in the next round.

Jonker described Sweden’s ominous 5-0 battering of Italy on Saturday as “a big result” which added a new dynamic to their match against tournament debutants Vietnam.

“You always have a preference for an opponent who on paper is less strong,” he said on Monday.

“We would prefer to play against the number two in that group than Sweden, but the first aim is always to win and get to the last 16.

“And then after that, if we can score goals, we will of course.

“We’ve never shown any sort of arrogance and we won’t now either.”

With prolific Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema missing the tournament because of injury, the Dutch arrived in New Zealand to predictions they would struggle to find the net.

Jonker said two goals in their first two games was respectable and pointed to a number of high-scoring warmup games as proof they can be prolific.

Vietnam have no chance of qualifying but impressed Jonker with their defending in losing only 3-0 to the US and 2-0 to Portugal.

A Dutch scout dissected both games and reported back that beating Vietnam wouldn’t be straightforward.

“It’s not more intensive than our preparations for USA but it’s not less intensive either. We always put in as much as we can to prepare the players for what is to come,” Jonker said.

“The scout confirmed it’s a good team, so a lot of respect for Vietnam.”

Arsenal midfielder Victoria Pelova, who provided the assist for Jill Roord’s goal against the US, trained separately from her team-mates on Monday but Jonker didn’t provide an update on her availability.

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