Holland draw in Sweden, Romania win first qualifying match

In the first match with Marco van Basten as the national team coach, Holland drew 2-2 with Sweden in Stockholm. Ajax players Wesley Sneijder and Zlatan Ibrahimovic both scored for their countries. Romania, with Bogdan Lobont, won the first qualifying match for the 2006 World Cup by defeating Finland 2-1.

At the occasion of Sweden's FA's 100th birthday, Holland and Sweden played a friendly match in Stockholm. It was the first time for Holland that the team was coached by former Ajax coaches Marco van Basten and John van 't Schip.

Sweden scored early against Holand where Ajax players Rafael van der Vaart, Johnny Heitinga and Nigel de Jong were in the starting line-up. Wesley Sneijder had to come on early after Van der Vaart was fouled hard by Ajax-teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic and had to come out with a sore ankle after seven minutes.
Sneijder scored the equaliser from 25 yards out and Van Bommel brought the visitors ahead shortly before halftime. Ibrahimovic, who played well but also fouled the Dutch players hard on several occasions, tied it in the second half when he scored from a Swedish corner kick. Ajax's goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg was the only Ajax player who stayed on the bench for 90 minutes.

Bogdan Lobont, now second goalkeeper at Ajax behind Stekelenburg, was on goal for Romania in their World Cup qualifier against Finland, where former Ajax players Petri Pasanen and Jari Litmanen played the full 90 minutes. Romania won 2-1 through goals by Mutu and Petre.

The Czech Republic, Holland's opponents in group 1, played a friendly against Greece in Prague. The match ended in 1-1.

Belgium, with Tom Soetaers and Wesley Sonck in the squad, drew 2-2 against Norway in Oslo. Wesley Sonck came on after 62 minutes in the friendly, Tom Soetaers did not play for the red devils. Thomas Vermaelen and Tom de Mul played with Belgium under 21, also in Norway and defeated their opponents 3-2. De Mul played the first half and Vermaelen came on after an hour.

Steven Pienaar's South-Africa defeated Tunisia in Tunis by 2-0. One of the goals was from former Ajax striker Benni McCarthy.