Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk says he is confident the Oranje will prevail over five-time champions Brazil in Friday's FIFA World Cup™ quarter-final. The Netherlands go into this last-eight clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium having won their first four matches in South Africa, but face their toughest test yet in the shape of Dunga's A Seleção.
Van Marwijk, who assumed control of the Netherlands team after UEFA EURO 2008, told a pre-match press conference: "Brazil are favourites for the World Cup, but we've proven we can also beat this type of opponent. I am fully confident of that.
"My team are absolutely ready, you can sense the excitement among the players. They know they are facing a very important match, they are fully focused. We are not afraid of them. We're realistic, we know Brazil are a good strong team with a number of weapons like speed and turning around a game, but I know we can win this match."
He suggested one of the keys to a Dutch success over Brazil was that they stuck by their own style of play. "It's important to play your own game against Brazil, and not go along with their play," he said. "Look at the Ivory Coast [who lost 3-1 to Brazil in the group stage]. They played very defensively, and lost. That's not the way they are supposed to play. We can't afford to make any mistakes, we've got to be very careful."
Captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst suggested that even though the Dutch had won all their matches en route to the quarter-final, improvement was needed to prevail in Port Elizabeth. "We deserved to win all our games, although we won them not playing 'beautiful' football," he said. "We are capable of playing better than we've shown so far and I hope we can show that against Brazil. We hope to improve and win this game."
At EURO 2008 the Netherlands excelled in the first round only to fall flat against Russia in the quarter-finals. Reflecting on the lessons learned from that failed campaign, Van Marwijk said: "At EURO 2008 we played two or three good matches but we also conceded a lot of chances. When I became coach I said very clearly that I wanted to teach the team to defend better. That starts with the strikers; that way you can rely on the defence."
Van Bronckhorst insisted that even though Brazil held the FIFA World Cup bragging rights over them, having beaten the Dutch in both 1994 and 1998, Friday's game was a different matter.
"1994 and 1998 are in the past, we want to win this World Cup. We are confident of beating Brazil, we will go out tomorrow and do everything to win this game. The atmosphere in this team is very good. We're a tight group, it's always good to be on the pitch with a team that you can trust. We all believe we can win this World Cup."