'Netherlands are favourites for the World Cup,' claims Kalou

The Cote d'Ivoire forward believes Louis van Gaal's side must now be considered the team most likely to lift the trophy after an impressive start to their campaign

EXCLUSIVE
By Stefan Coerts in Brasilia

Cote d'Ivoire striker Salomon Kalou has declared Netherlands to be favourites for the World Cup, revealing his admiration for their performances.

The Oranje have won both of their Group B games so far, overcoming Australia 3-2 on Wednesday after beginning with a surprise 5-1 thrashing of Spain, and have progressed to the last-16.

Speaking exclusively to Goal after his side's 2-1 loss to Colombia, Kalou said that Netherlands' impressive form has made them the team to beat in the competition.

"Netherlands are the favourites to win the World Cup," the 28-year-old said.

"They are always among the favourites because they have some great players and a good team. [Arjen] Robben is doing fantastic, [Robin] van Persie is doing fantastic. So they are the favourites."

The Elephants fell to defeat against los Cafeteros on Thursday, only managing a goal from Gervinho in response to strikes from James Rodriguez and Juan Fernando Quintero, but Kalou remained upbeat about his side's chances.

"Things went wrong and got difficult for us when we conceded [the first] goal," he continued.

"That allowed them to play on the counter-attack and wait for us. They could just wait for the right moment and they made it happen. You know it’s going to be a difficult game when they can sit back.

"This loss is not a blow to us. We still have one game to go. We have to be positive and focus on that game. We want to make the qualification happen.

"I am confident that we will win against Greece and qualify. We have to make sure we are well prepared."

The striker's thoughts were echoed by his team-mate Kolo Toure, who played down the impact of losing to the Colombians.

"We are disappointed that we lost, but it's just one game," 33-year-old insisted.

"This is not a major blow. We are now focusing on our next match. It will be a crucial game and we must win it.

"We are very confident that we will qualify. We played very well today and didn't deserve to lose against Colombia. But that's part of the game. We must now focus on the game and want to do well again. It’s going to be very important for Cote d'Ivoire."

Toure also had words of support for Serey Die, who broke down in tears during the national anthem.

"Serey was just emotional because he loves his country and is proud to be play for the team," the defender concluded.