JOHANNESBURG - Netherlands coach Bert van
Marwijk made a slight tweak to his usual pre-match preparations
ahead of Sunday's World Cup final against Spain by taking his
squad on an afternoon stroll around the zoo.
The 58-year-old, blessed with a healthy squad for the
biggest match of his life at Soccer City, said he had tried to
keep preparations as normal as possible despite the magnitude of
"This is the most important match in my football life and
that counts for all players as none of us ever won the World
title," Van Marwijk told a news conference at Soccer City on
"Though I approach it like a normal match with the
preparation we always have. We walked in the morning but this
time we walked through the zoo as it was nearby. Then we rested
and went training."
This will be the Dutch's third appearance in a World Cup
final following back-to-back defeats in 1974 and 78 and although
they will go into the match as underdogs they will be confident
having extended their win streak to 14 games with victory over
Uruguay in the semi-finals.
The 3-2 win over the South Americans was their sixth win in
South Africa and despite their smooth run through the tournament
the reserved coach said there was no reason to fear that all
their confidence might turn into arrogance.
"Especially not for a match against Spain," Van Marwijk
said. "For example, against Japan, Slovakia and Uruguay we
proved that we stayed focussed."
After starting their World Cup campaign at Soccer City on
June 14 with a 2-0 win over Denmark, the Dutch are back in the
same stadium at a much higher altitude then all the sea level
venues they played in between.
After their opener, the Dutch played twice in Durban and
Cape Town while their most impressive win over Brazil in the
quarter-finals was registered in Port Elizabeth.
"It is good that we had some days to get used to
circumstances again, it is necessary you could see that how the
ball reacted today," said the coach, who revealed he was a world
champion in klaverjassen, a Dutch card game, after winning the
title with his father in 1975.
Captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst, playing his final match
before retirement, agreed the change in altitude takes some time
to get used to.
"You have to adjust again, especially with long passes
through the air as the ball move completely different, but it
during the match it just will be a matter of course," the
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