DURBAN - Netherlands striker Dirk Kuyt
believes any complacency towards their surprise World Cup second
round opponents Slovakia will be kept in check by their fiercest
critics - themselves.
Slovakia's stunning 3-2 upset of holders Italy on Thursday
would have been warning enough to the Dutch that their return to
the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Monday will not be as
easy as the two teams' pedigrees would suggest.
Although Netherlands and Argentina were the only sides to
win all three group matches, the Dutch have yet to dazzle anyone
and are determined to keep their feet on the ground.
"This squad is filled with self-criticism as it always can
be better and has to be better," Kuyt told reporters this week.
"We only do things step-by-step and when we have a lesser
day, we turn to our organisation and then we can also survive."
Flying winger Arjen Robben made an immediate impact on his
return from injury with a substitute appearance in the last
group match against Cameroon in which he set up the winner.
That gives coach Bert van Marwijk a full squad to choose
from to face the Slovakians, although Robben is again likely to
start on the bench.
Gregory van der Wiel should return at right back after being
replaced by Khalid Boulahrouz for the Cameroon match to avoid
the risk of a second booking.
At stake in sunny Durban is a quarter-final against Brazil
or Chile and Slovakia know they will have produce another huge
performance to claim a place in the last eight.
"We haven't got anything to lose in this match. The
Netherlands are the big favourites. We just want to do the same
as we did against Italy," defender Peter Pekarik told Reuters.
Coach Vladimir Weiss is not surprisingly likely to keep
faith with the players that beat the world champions including
Miroslav Stoch and Juraj Kucka, who transformed a team that had
managed just one shot on target in the 2-0 defeat by Paraguay.
Weiss will have to make at least one change with Zdeno Strba
suspended and Kamil Kopunek is likely to replace him in the
defensive midfield role.
Having produced his country's finest footballing moment in
their first major tournament as an independent nation with
attacking endeavour, Weiss suggested he would again encourage
his team to take the game to the Dutch.
"Now we are heroes. There is euphoria in Slovakia, it's
unbelievable. We are so happy," he told reporters. "Maybe we
will play more offensively against Holland."
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