Dutch delight and high ambitions at World Cup (Feature)

June 7th, 2009 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

By John Bagratuni
Hamburg, June 7 (DPA) Now that the Netherlands have stormed to the 2010 football World Cup they also want to shine at the finals in South Africa.

“We have a mission. We want to become even better and will aim for the best possible result in South Africa,” said coach Bert van Marwijk.

Director Henk Kesler from the nation’s football federation KNVB agreed: “We are not the top favourite at the World Cup but with this team we must play an important role.

“Sport is about results, and you must show ambitions if you want to be a leading football nation. We are famous for our great training and are ranked second in the world. So you should, or better must, raise the bar high.”

After failing to make it to Euro 2008 the Dutch qualified for the World Cup in record-breaking fashion 369 days ahead of the first kickoff, clinching their place on Saturday with a 2-1 victory against Iceland in Reykjavik.

Van Marwijk, who took over from Marco van Basten last year, won all six qualifiers and the coach insisted that the talented team with the likes of Arjen Robben and Raffael van der Vaart will not rest on its laurels in the final four matches.

“We now want to complete the qualifying round without dropping a point. I want to win again on Wednesday against Norway,” van Marwijk said.

A semi-final berth at big events is the KNVB target but what the Dutch really want is a first World Cup title at last after runner-up finishes in 1974 and 1978.

The Dutch media was duly impressed that the team became the first qualifier from Europe, less than a year since the start of the campaign and three months earlier than the first team made it for 2006, Ukraine in September 2005.

“Noblesse oblige,” said De Telegraaf paper on its website Sunday.

The Dutch joined Japan, Australia and South Korea at the 2010 finals as the three teams had qualified earlier Saturday from the Asian zone.

The Japanese delighted in being first to qualify as for the 2006 edition, with hundreds of fans welcoming the team at Narita airport Sunday on returning from the deciding 1-0 victory in Uzbekistan.

“World’s fastest,” said the Sports Hochi paper and Saturday’s match winner Shinji Okazaki was named “chief Samurai.”

Rivals South Korea were as happy about a seventh straight World Cup berth while Australia were over moon of making it for the second time in a row and third time overall.

“A lot of people weren’t confident that we were going to make this World Cup and we have proved them wrong tonight,” striker Harry Kewell was quoted as saying after the deciding 0-0 draw in Qatar.

While the four teams celebrated qualifying was due to continue around the world, with for instance several games scheduled in Africa Sunday and mid-week games set for Europe and other areas.

They include England, who like the Dutch have won all six matches but are not there yet. A 4-0 win in Kazakhstan Saturday was welcomed as a result, but no one was fully happy with the team Fabio Capello’s team presented itself in Almaty.

“England played some of their worst football under Fabio Capello yet won handsomely and scored one of their best goals of the modern era, courtesy of Wayne Rooney. It was like watching a room of monkeys bashing haphazardly at typewriters before one came up with a Shakespeare sonnet,” said The Sunday Times.

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