On the eve of the Netherlands' FIFA World Cup™ semi-final, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk insisted he is focused solely on beating Uruguay on Tuesday and dismissed any talk about the Final as premature.
The Dutch last reached a FIFA World Cup Final in 1978 and are overwhelming favourites to beat the South Americans at Cape Town's Green Point Stadium to book their berth at Johannesburg's Soccer City for Sunday's Final. But van Marwijk baulked when asked if his side are set to fulfill their potential by winning a first FIFA World Cup title.
"I really don't want to talk about the Final," he said. "I have been hearing this talk much too often, first we have to play a semi-final. I have immense respect for what players in the past have achieved for the Netherlands, but I didn't come to this tournament to wring my hands at reaching the Final. That isn't enough, we have come here to win the Final. We have come here for the ultimate prize, that is our goal and we will only enjoy this tournament if we win it."
The Netherlands have not always produced their trademark flowing football in South Africa, but Van Marwijk says he has insisted his team concentrate on results and show no sign of the arrogance they may have displayed in the past.
"I can't change a culture, but I have worked hard to create an environment to make the players realise that if you want to achieve something in a tournament, you need to focus solely on the next match and not think ahead. When we do well, we tend to get a bit arrogant after we have won a game, but the players have really understood that and it has been the basis of our preparation against Uruguay."
I can't change a culture, but I have worked hard to create an environment to make the players realise that if you want to achieve something in a tournament, you need to focus solely on the next match and not think ahead.
The Dutch are widely tipped to make their third appearance in a FIFA World Cup Final, but van Marwijk is wary of Uruguay. "They are a very dangerous team," he said of Oscar Tabarez's side. "At the start of the tournament, I used them as example of a passionate side and it is not for nothing that they have come this far."
While the Netherlands were the underdogs before their 2-1 quarter-final win over Brazil, Van Marwijk says he has no problems being the favourites against Uruguay, but will pay the tag little attention. "In the group phase, we were always the favourite, never the underdog," he said.
"Against Brazil, it was the other way around, I don't really have an opinion on that, we just want to concentrate on ourselves. We don't want to be misled or distracted by people thinking we are the favourites."