ICC World Twenty20: 'Irish unity will overcome Netherlands' needle'
But it will be a big blow if Stirling fails to recover from arm injury in time...
Last Updated: 19/03/14 6:19pm
William Porterfield's side will join England, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka in Group 1 if they beat the Dutch in Sylhet where they saw off the UAE by 21 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method to sit top of Group B with two wins from two games.
Zimbabwe remain in the hunt for qualification too after beating the Netherlands by five wickets thanks to Vusi Sibanda's last-ball six and former Ireland all-rounder McCallan told Sky Sports that it's all to play for on Friday.
"I think at the start of the tournament that if you'd offered us that opportunity we would have taken it. It was a much better performance today and I'm looking forward to Friday already," he said.
"The Dutch have an awful lot of points to prove because they haven't qualified as one of the qualifiers for the 2015 World Cup.
"It has always been a needle game and thankfully it's one that we've come out on top of more often than not recently but it will certainly be a tough game.
"The Irish guys know how to win and the team is made up of guys who live and breathe Irish cricket whereas the Dutch side is made up of a lot of guys who fly in for tournaments and fly away.
"I think that team cohesion, that togetherness, that want to be in each other's company will be the deciding factor when it comes to the tight pressure games."
Paul Stirling (2-12) and Kevin O'Brien (2-17) helped to set up Ireland's victory over the UAE, who could muster only 123-6 from their 20 overs.
Stirling, though, then suffered a painful blow on the elbow opening the batting and was forced to retire hurt before Ed Joyce steered Ireland towards victory with a composed 43.
"Paul Stirling is not a soft lad - he will want to stay out there in all circumstances so it is a big concern and we'll hope that it's just some bruising and he can take the field," said McCallan. "The last time he played against the Dutch was in India and he got a hundred.
"It will be a big blow with bat and ball if he's not involved but there will be no-one keener to get out there than Niall O'Brien; that's the value of having strength in depth in our squad.
"Let's hope it doesn't come to that and we're picking from 15 fit men come Friday and we put our best side out in the field."
He added: "The problem with the make-up in our side is that the fact that whenever the seamers are bowling we don't have that extra pace to rely on so you've got to be able to nail your skills and execute your plans really, really well.
"The only other thing that we might want to look at is losing wickets in bundles. We've had a number of good partnerships but when we've lost one, we've tended to lose two or three.
"There was a definite move to put the foot down with William Porterfield playing the anchor role. I genuinely think that if William gets out, then Ed takes up that role."
Zimbabwe's hopes of qualifying for the Super 10s remain alive despite Tom Cooper's unbeaten 72, which helped the Netherlands post 140-5.
Hamilton Masakadza (43) and captain Brendan Taylor (49) both replied in style for the ICC Full member side but it still took Vusi Sibanda's last-ball six to seal the win.
The Netherlands' strong showing is further evidence, says McCallan, that the the gap between the top associate teams and the bottom full member teams "has really closed".
"I appreciate that Zimbabwe cricket is in crisis on and off the field, but it's great to see that the top associates are really giving the likes of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh a good run for their money.
He added: "Ireland have come into the tournament having won the T20 qualifiers, the 50-over World Cricket League and the five-day Intercontinental Cup, so we have proved ourselves as the leading associate in all forms of the game.
"We are doing it on a budget much less than what Zimbabwe are getting and if the ICC gave us that chunk I think we would do better than Zimbabwe."
Mark Butcher, whose father Alan coached Zimbabwe until early 2013, said: "The noise around world cricket is that Ireland deserve full status - or at least bigger status than they have at the moment - and people are saying that Zimbabwe are the team they should be playing in place of.
"So there is massive pressure on the entire structure of the Zimbabwean game which is struggling because of financial issues and other factors."
Watch Ireland take on the Netherlands from 9am on Sky Sports 2 this Friday.