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Van Gaal's team progressed to the World Cup quarter-finals, where it will face Lionel Messi's Argentina, with a 3-1 victory over the United States at Khalifa International Stadium.
Memphis Depay and Daley Blind struck in the first half, with the excellent Denzel Dumfries – who assisted the Netherlands' first two goals – sealing the win after Haji Wright had pulled one back for the USA.
3 - With one goal and two assists, Denzel Dumfries is one of three players to be directly involved in 3+ goals in a single World Cup match for the Netherlands, after Rob Rensenbrink (twice in 1978) and Johan Cruijff (in 1974). Flying. pic.twitter.com/Vd87t95zgI— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 3, 2022
Van Gaal's pragmatic approach has seen him come in for some criticism but his team is now just two wins away from the final, and three away from lifting the trophy for the first time in the nation's history.
"I get enough appreciation from the people around me," van Gaal said in his post-match press conference when asked if he believed he needed to win the competition to gain respect from some of his critics.
"I know the media don't always report in a positive way, it's a given in football, but some top countries didn't progress, we still have three matches to go.
"We can become world champion. I am not saying that we will, but that we can."
According to Opta, which does not count penalty shootout losses as defeats, van Gaal is unbeaten in his 11 World Cup games in charge of the Netherlands, a competition record.
19 - @OnsOranje are unbeaten in their last 19 World Cup games against non-European opponents (W13 D6), with their last such defeat dating back to the 1994 quarter-final against Brazil. Confident. pic.twitter.com/q7ZNEmeF8k— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) December 3, 2022
The Netherlands has progressed from five of the last six round-of-16 matches at the World Cup, including progressing from the past three appearances at this stage.
While he was pleased with the outcome, van Gaal pointed to the first half as an example of where the Oranje must up their game.
"I was very critical at half-time in my analysis I share with my players as usual," he explained.
"Despite being in the lead, we suffered so much, we were dispossessed so often, it was not necessary and that's not acceptable at a World Cup, if you play top countries you cannot make it.
"In the second half they did a much better job but nevertheless we were very pleased, and gives us incredible confidence. We will evaluate the match, then roll up our sleeves and get to work again, I can't promise any more than that."
Van Gaal will leave his role at the end of the Netherlands' campaign in Qatar and that is serving as extra motivation for the players, according to defender Nathan Ake.
"I think you could see the fight we have, the whole team is united, everyone wants to do well for him," Ake said.
"He's such an iconic figure for us and the Netherlands, so for him to do his last tournament, yeah obviously that's going to cross our mind."
Goalkeeper Andries Noppert added: "He's a really special person because he tries to make everyone better, he tries to keep it as one group. This is a special gift for a coach.
"He gives you a really special feeling that you are all together, and for the World Cup and our squad, that's really important."