Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk has praised his side for reaching their first FIFA World Cup™ final in 32 years, but said their achievement counts for nothing yet. The Netherlands' 3-2 semi-final win over Uruguay has put them in Sunday's final where they will face either Germany or Spain at Johannesburg's Soccer City.
The Dutch are bidding to win their first FIFA World Cup title and having lost both the 1978 and 1974 finals, van Marwijk says the current side must win on Sunday if they want to write themselves into Dutch footballing history. "It is quite something we have achieved after 32 years, but we are not there yet and there is one more match to look forward to," he said.
The former Feyenoord coach has instilled a strong team spirit and has always insisted his team think only of their next game. "What happened before my time, with all due respect, I don't look at it," said the 58-year-old. "I did things my way, we play good football and sometimes beautiful football, but in the past we started winning and got over-confident. I try to tell my players there will always be a next match. I try to give them more stabilty by teaching them how to defend properly, I love attacking football, but we must have possession of the ball."
In the wake of their semi-final win, Van Marwijk revealed what it means for the success-starved Dutch to reach the final. "Of course I am very very happy and proud that such a small country is in the World Cup final, it is hard to understand," he said. "It is something I started working on two years ago and it's been a long process. Then, as now, you get atmosphere in the team and I told them 'don't let this chance get away'."
Van Marwijk praised his side for not panicking despite conceding a late Uruguay goal which made the score 3-2 with time almost up. "We started well and had excellent organisation then got the confidence to play a bit more freely and be a bit braver," said van Marwijk. "We lost grip in midfield, but at half-time we corrected that. Things went wrong every now and then, but we took the initiative a bit more and when we scored 2-1, I had full confidence. But opponents can all of a sudden score a goal and it becomes really exciting. We didn't make 4-1 or 5-1 but we survived and we were just so relieved in the dressing room."