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First Team News

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Hero Nigel making World Cup plans

Nigel De Jong Holland International March 2009

Nigel De Jong Holland International March 2009

Nigel de Jong waited 34 games to score his first goal for Holland - but the City midfielder's icebreaker in Iceland paved the way to becoming the first European nation to qualify for next year's World Cup finals.

Holland's home tie with backmarkers Norway on Wednesday night will take on a carnival atmosphere after strikes from De Jong and Mark van Bommel inside 15 minutes earned a 2-1 victory in Reykjavik.

Booking an early place in South Africa next summer is the icing on the cake for 24-year-old Nigel's pivotal season, which saw him move to the City of Manchester Stadium from Hamburg in the January transfer window.

The Dutch have matched England's record of six wins out of six but are now an uncatchable 11 points clear of nearest rivals Scotland at the top of Group Nine, having scored 14 goals and conceded only two.

Coach Bert van Marwijk said: "Iceland are the weakest opponents we have played, but there was an enormous release of emotions in the dressing-room afterwards. We have proven ourselves as a real team.

"Everyone said it was an easy group, but when you win six in a row that deserves a big compliment. I like the fact that we've qualified already, we now have lots of time to prepare for next year."

 

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