Dutch ready for Slovakian heroes
Netherlands striker Dirk Kuyt believes any complacency towards their surprise World Cup second round opponents Slovakia will be kept in check by their fiercest critics — themselves.sports Updated: Jun 28, 2010 02:00 IST
Netherlands striker Dirk Kuyt believes any complacency towards their surprise World Cup second round opponents Slovakia will be kept in check by their fiercest critics — themselves.
Slovakia's stunning 3-2 upset of holders Italy would have been warning enough to the Dutch that their return to the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Monday will not be as easy as the two teams' pedigrees would suggest.
Although Netherlands and Argentina were the only sides to win all three group matches, the Dutch have yet to dazzle anyone and are determined to keep their feet on the ground.
“This squad is filled with self-criticism as it always can be better and has to be better,” Kuyt said this week. “We only do things step-by-step and when we have a lesser day, we turn to our organisation and then we can also survive.”
Flying winger Arjen Robben made an immediate impact on his return from injury with a substitute appearance in the last group match against Cameroon in which he set up the winner.
That gives coach Bert van Marwijk a full squad to choose from, although Robben is again likely to start on the bench.
Gregory van der Wiel should return at rightback after being replaced by Khalid Boulahrouz against Cameroon to avoid the risk of a second booking.
At stake is a quarterfinal against Brazil or Chile and Slovakia know they will have produce another performance to claim a place in the last eight.
“We haven't got anything to lose in this match. The Netherlands are the big favourites. We just want to do the same as we did against Italy,” defender Peter Pekarik said. Coach Vladimir Weiss is not surprisingly likely to keep faith with the players that beat the world champions including Miroslav Stoch and Juraj Kucka, who transformed a team that had managed just one shot on target in the 2-0 defeat by Paraguay.
Weiss will have to make at least one change with Zdeno Strba suspended and Kamil Kopunek is likely to replace him in the defensive midfield role.
Having produced his country's finest footballing moment in their first major tournament as an independent nation with attacking endeavour, Weiss suggested he would again encourage his team to take the game to the Dutch.
“Now we are heroes. There is euphoria in Slovakia, it's unbelievable. We are so happy,” he told reporters. “Maybe we will play more offensively against Holland.”