DURBAN - Netherlands striker Robin van
Persie's petulant reaction to his substitution in their World
Cup second-round victory on Monday could be the first hairline
crack in the united front so far presented by the squad.
Van Persie reacted angrily when he was replaced by Klaas-Jan
Huntelaar 10 minutes before the end of the 2-1 win over Slovakia
which set up a quarter-final meeting with Brazil.
The forward came off the pitch and remonstrated with coach
Bert van Marwijk and then took no part in the Dutch celebrations
of Wesley Sneijder's late goal that doubled their lead.
"What I said to Van Marwijk was not over the top," Van
Persie, who has scored just once in four games, told reporters.
"I just want to be important to the team and score. I wanted
to stay on as we would have had more space with Slovakia chasing
an equaliser, and I felt that I could profit from that.
"I have hardly scored and that was gnawing at me, although I
Van Persie said his reaction had nothing to do with
pressure, did not influence other players, and the way he
responded to such situations sometimes annoyed even him.
While Van Marwijk said he was not angry with Van Persie and
that he understood his disappointment, Dutch media reports said
the coach called the squad together when they returned to their
hotel in Johannesburg to clear the air.
Van Persie's outburst was in stark contrast to how Dirk Kuyt
handled his move to the left flank to make way for Arjen
Robben's return on the right for the last 16 match.
Kuyt filled his role without complaint and six minutes from
time, when put through by Giovanni van Bronckhorst, spurned a
chance to shoot so he could set up Sneijder to settle the game.
"I spoke with Gio before the match about some little things
and just needed a quick glance at him to know what he was going
to do," Kuyt told Reuters.
"I saw the goalkeeper coming out and, when I got past him, I
saw two defenders on their way back to protect the goal. Then
you know there will be space for an incoming midfielder at the
Despite their first win in the knockout phase of a major
tournament since beating Sweden on penalties in the Euro 2004
quarter-finals, Kuyt conceded they had a sloppy phase after
Robben's opening goal.
Carelessness in their passing game had forced them back, he
said, while they also gave away more chances to the Slovaks than
they had to previous opponents.
"But we replied with our chances and the second goal and
that is also our quality, in every situation we always keep
creating our own chances," he added.
Netherlands face Brazil in the last eight on Friday in Port
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