De Jong urges Netherlands to 'seize the opportunity' against Portugal

The Manchester City midfielder admitted that his country's situation is "a bit uncomfortable" and also conceded that they deserved to lose their second match against Germany
 Martin Langer
 In Kharkiv

Netherlands midfielder Nigel de Jong has insisted that Oranje can still qualify for the Euro 2012 quarter-finals and has urged his team-mates to "seize the opportunity" in their final Group B match against Portugal.

Wednesday's 2-1 defeat to Germany left Bert van Marwijk's team needing to beat the Seleccao on Sunday and then rely on results elsewhere.

If Joachim Low's side fail to win against Denmark, Netherlands will be eliminated regardless of their own result having lost both of their games so far.

"This situation is a bit odd, three teams could finish with three points, and we might qualify with that," De Jong told "It was not what we expected, but we must seize the opportunity.

"Portugal are a good team, of course, with good players, especially in attack. But I think we are better, and that it's time to prove it because we have not done so in this tournament."
Sian Welby presents our latest show, as Ash Sharma previews tonight's Group C matches

De Jong admitted that Oranje have been left in an uneasy situation, given that a draw between Germany and Denmark would see the Dutch eliminated.

"I do not know [about the Germany-Denmark match]," De Jong said. "Now it is not up to us what the outcome will be.

"I'm sure we will beat Portugal, but obviously we have to wait for Germany to win, which is a bit uncomfortable, really.

The Manchester City man also hit back at suggestions that Netherlands lack the mental strength to progress, having struggled to respond after falling a goal behind in their two matches thus far.

"During the qualifiers we won almost every game and we also won almost all of our friendlies," he pointed out. "Arguably the Euros have been a little unfortunate, but we can't expect much when we miss so many chances."

De Jong also maintained that the loss to die Mannschaft had not adversely affected the squad despite the rivalry between the two countries.

"There is a great rivalry, but it hurts the fans more than us," De Jong explained. "The defeat against Denmark also hurt a lot, in both cases the situation is the same."

"We started the game well, the first 20 minutes were very good, but we collapsed after the goal. I do not know what it was.

"In the second half, having Rafael van der Vaart on the pitch was important, because we link well in midfield and that helped us catch up with a goal from Robin van Persie, but in the end we fell short, and we lost deservedly."

Despite his lack of success in Portugal's opening two matches, De Jong was wary of the threat posed by Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the decisive meeting between the two nations.

"He's a great player, everyone knows that," he added. "Sure you can stop him, but you have to be focused the whole game, he won't let you relax."