Holland coach Bert van Marwijk will treat Arjen Robben with caution ahead of Monday's last-16 clash with Slovakia after the winger made his first appearance in the FIFA World Cup™.
Bayern Munich's Robben had been sidelined with a troublesome hamstring problem but came on as a substitute in Cape Town last night in his side's 2-1 win over Cameroon in their Group E dead rubber. He showed the impact he can have by hitting the post to set up Klaas Jan Huntelaar's winner and while Van Marwijk revealed he suffered no reaction to the injury, he will not be cavalier in his selection of the player.
"In our last warm-up match against Hungary it was an entirely different situation with Arjen and I was thinking, 'This is the end of his World Cup, that's it'," said Van Marwijk. "Of course we're incredibly pleased to see that he can be so valuable to us. He was able to play for 20 minutes and everybody can see how important he's turned out to be for us."
As for his participation in the last-16 clash with Slovakia, Van Marwijk added: "The idea is to build him up slowly and gradually. I'm really pleased he was able to play for 20 minutes and nothing happened, he didn't get injured. But there are three more training sessions and he will be growing step-by-step. I take it he'll be able to play in the next match but I don't know if he will be part of the first XI."
Holland made it three wins from as many Group E matches with victory over Cameroon. With the Oranje already through to the last 16 and Cameroon out, it took Robin van Persie's 36th-minute flash of inspiration to get things going at Green Point Stadium.
Samuel Eto'o's second-half penalty levelled matters until substitute Huntelaar's 83rd-minute winner continued the group winners' momentum heading into a last-16 clash with Slovakia. "I felt today we were less good than in our last two matches," said Van Marwijk afterwards. We were dealing with an opponent already leaving the World Cup and it's unpredictable in the all-or-nothing way that they could play."
His Cameroon counterpart Paul Le Guen confirmed he will leave his post when his contract runs out this summer. "My contract was coming up and it's the end of this mission," said the Frenchman. "It was planned to be this way. I'm going to think about the future now, and we'll see."