Arjen Robben has revealed there is a belief in the Netherlands squad that they have learned from past mistakes and can finally deliver at a major tournament.
The talented Dutch side romped into the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup™ with a perfect three out of three wins from their group matches, finishing with a 2-1 victory over Cameroon in Cape Town last night.
Robben was part of the squad who captivated fans at UEFA EURO 2008 only to surrender to Russia in the quarter-finals, while they also failed to make a real dent at the 2006 FIFA World Cup despite boasting talented personnel.
Comparing their current crop with the side of two years ago, Robben said ahead of the last-16 clash with Slovakia: "The spirit is the same.
"The only thing is that we're two years older and we're more experienced. We have been playing together for a long time and we have learnt from our mistakes."
It's fantastic to have Arjen back. He's such a great player. He can dribble, he can score, he can give assists.
Team-mate Rafael van der Vaart went a step further, claiming the team can reach the Final in Johannesburg on 11 July. "Slovakia have a good team and they will be a tough opponent," he said.
"We won the group with nine points and we're happy with what we accomplished. I believe we will be in the Final."
Robben, meanwhile, hopes to feature again against Slovakia on Monday having played 20 minutes against Cameroon following a hamstring injury. "I wasn't too worried (about the injury)," he said. "The most important thing was to get some rhythm in the legs. I know it is still not 100%."
Robben's return to action, however brief, was welcomed by his team-mates. "It's fantastic to have Arjen back," said Robin van Persie. He's such a great player. He can dribble, he can score, he can give assists. He's just a great all-round player."
Van Persie opened the scoring for Holland at Green Point Stadium before Samuel Eto'o's penalty took Cameroon level. Robben's introduction was key, however, as Klaas Jan Huntelaar hit the winner after the winger's shot hit the post and fell to him.
"I'm more happy about my team play than the goal," said Van Persie. "I didn't play well in our first two games so I'm happy with the confidence the manager's shown in me to play me today, and of course I'm really happy with the goal.
"Winning all three matches is definitely good for our confidence, it's amazing. But we still need to improve now. We had some good phases in the last three games but we need to build on that and play better and for longer.
"Most of our guys have two, three or four tournaments in their legs so hopefully we can show now we have learned from that. I do believe we have and we're determined to do it."