Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk believes his side has the necessary spirit and skill to overcome the slick passing game of Spain in Sunday’s World Cup final and bring the Dutch their first world title at the third attempt.
The European champions Spain put in their best performance of the tournament to date in Wednesday’s 1-0 semifinal victory over Germany in Durban.
While Van Marwijk admitted La Roja would go into the Soccer City final as favourites, he remained adamant that the Dutch, who beat Uruguay 3-2 in the other semifinal on Tuesday, could prevail.
“Spain are the best time in the world in the last years. We respect them but we are not afraid. It’s a big challenge to play against Spain and beat them,” Van Marwijk told a news conference in Johannesburg.
“It doesn’t interest me when the whole world says they are favourites. Both countries want to win and can win. We have confidence in ourselves.” Van Marwijk spoke of the inspiration he and his players have drawn from the great Dutch side of the 1970s, which played in the 1974 and 1978 finals, losing both to Germany and Argentina respectively.
“They are an inspiration because this is the third time that we have reached the final,” he said. “But you can’t compare now with something that happened 30 years ago.” Although the Dutch have racked up 12 goals in the tournament to date, striker Robin van Persie has yet to get off the mark, something his coach believes could well be rectified in Sunday’s final.
“I think he improved in the last game and I’ve full confidence in Robin,” said Van Marwijk. “I think he is in very good shape in this moment. He will play his best game in the final.” The 58-year-old refused to single out any players for praise, saying Holland’s achievement was a team effort.
He added that although the teams have never met at a major tournament, victory would not be easy as both sides were familiar with each other’s style.
“We know them, they have no secrets for us, and the other way around also,” he said. “It’s a big challenge to play them, but we are not afraid.”
Keywords: 2010 FIFA World Cup