JOHANNESBURG - From a modest start, as
player and coach, Bert van Marwijk built success with Feyenoord
before taking over a promising Netherlands side following their
disappointing quarter-final exit at Euro 2008.
After guiding the Dutch to the World Cup final against Spain
at Soccer City on Sunday, he has joined an exclusive club that
includes the late Rinus Michels and Ernst Happel who achieved
the same feat in 1974 and 1978 respectively.
A calm, conservative figure, the 58-year-old Van Marwijk has
kept faith with experienced players and with the formation and
tactics his predecessor, Marco van Basten, drew up.
Van Basten failed to steer his team through the knockout
phase on two occasions but Van Marwijk started with a mission in
July 2008 which had one sole goal, winning the World Cup.
He was a conventional winger during his 19-year playing
career and won only one international cap, in 1975.
After seven years of coaching amateur teams, Van Marwijk
joined top-flight Fortuna Sittard, taking them to the 1999 Dutch
Cup final where they lost to Ajax Amsterdam.
His greatest successes came with Feyenoord who he led to a
UEFA Cup triumph in 2002 before winning the Dutch Cup on his
return to Rotterdam after a two-year stint with Borussia
Dortmund in Germany.
When he took over the national side, Van Marwijk asked
former Netherlands internationals Frank de Boer and Phillip
Cocu, who between them have more than 200 caps, to assist him.
He has kept faith with players who have served their country
well in the past, such as defenders Giovanni van Bronckhorst and
Andre Ooijer, despite modest recent league form.
Both gambles have paid off with Van Bronckhorst, who has
played every minute so far, scoring the opener in the semi-final
and Ooijer more than able to fill in for the quarter-final
against Brazil when he replaced the injured Joris Mathijsen.
Van Marwijk, whose contract has already been extended until
the end of Euro 2012, steered Netherlands smoothly through
qualifying with eight wins out of eight, although a group
containing Macedonia, Scotland, Iceland and Norway offered
little chance to see his players fully tested.
At the World Cup the Dutch have extended their winning
streak in competitive matches to 14 with five-times champions
Brazil their biggest scalp at the quarter-final stage.
If his balanced team adds a 15th victory to their already
impressive streak Van Marwijk will cast a glorious shadow over a
long list of successful and innovative Dutch coaches by becoming
the only one with a World Cup winners' medal.
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