As you all football fans well know, the Oranje has replaced Spain at the top of the FIFA World Rankings recently. Tell you what – I’d rather have the Dutch winning the World Cup 2010 than to be at the top of something relatively meaningless. Of course I’m proud of the Dutch sitting pretty at the top of the world and staring down at the cheating Spaniards but such is life – the vanquished are seldom remembered in favourable light.
Still, if Holland wins the Euro 2012 tournament, I’d be happy all the same. I’m looking at the pretty grim perspective that some people would have gone thru life (after 1988) always seeing Het Elftal playing splendid football but always coming short in decisive matches.
Oranje scored a huge crushing win. Yes, that was against opponents that are minnows in world football. I’d bet that with some bit of luck and tenacity, even the Malaysian national team would have notched a comfortable victory over the tiny republicans. Still, it was the biggest ever competitive win for the Dutch and each of the goals are as follows –
1st goal (7th minute – Robin van Persie / assist from Mark van Bommel)
I’d love to have Mark van Bommel in the team with such raking crosses. Great technique from van Persie too for the first goal.
2nd goal (12th minute – Wesley Sneijder)
Long volley from Wes – reminiscent of the splendid goal he scored against Scotland in the 6-0 rout in Amsterdam ArenA in 2003 for the qualifiers of Euro 2004.
3rd goal (17th minute – Johnny Heitinga / assist – half-half Kuyt and San Marino player)
Dirk Kuyt’s cross from the left was charged down by a San Marino player. Talk about irony – the resulting rebound came to Johnny’s head who delightedly finished it off. At this point, Bert van Marwijk and assistant manager Philip Cocu afforded themselves contented smiles – the former with the wry smile of a victor. How could they lose from here?
4th goal (49th minute – Dirk Kuyt / assist – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar)
Kuyt nearly skied the shot after stretching to get to the cross, after some good work between Robin van Persie on the left to Huntelaar on the right. On another day, the Liverpool man would have put it well over but the heavens smiled on him that time. He would love to have you think that it was a deliberate goal attempt but in my judgment, no.
5th goal (56th minute – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar / assist – Wesley Sneijder)
Quite a dubious goal this as Wesley Sneijder may have played KJ offside –
A fraction offside if you ask me – but great finish by the Schalke man all the same. Now, the scoreline looks more like the golden days of 1998…
6th goal (65th minute – Robin van Persie / assist – Dirk Kuyt)
Again, a very contestable goal. Look and see whether RvP was really offside below…
It looks like offside to me. Still, Robin was too much of a goal-poacher to turn down such generous offer.
7th goal (67th minute – Robin van Persie / goalkeeper saved off Kuyt but rebounded to RvP)
No offside decision to make here, just natural RvP’s predatory instincts at full-blown capacity.
8th goal (77th minute – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar / assist – Kevin Strootman)
It was great to see PSV new midfielder, Kevin Strootman possessing a strong understanding of the game not to nick the ball of Klaas who was also chasing down the same ball here –
RvP threaded a good ball intended for Huntelaar but Strootman found himself going after the same prize. The midfielder seemed to understand that the experienced striker would have the better finish and opted quickly to switch positions and be the one assisting him. Great stuff. This is what instilled teamwork could do.
9th goal (79th minute – Robin van Persie)
Strootman was again instrumental in this goal – he backheeled in the penalty area to Wesley Sneijder on his right who was charging upfield. Sneijder could not get there fast enough but van Persie was already on hand and poised to shoot for goal.
10th goal (Wesley Sneijder / assist – Robin van Persie)
Already the game was over as a contest but the Dutch took utter delight in further humiliating the small footballing nation. Wesley Sneijder again producing an excellent finish from a rather tight corner.
11th goal (Georginio Wijnaldum / assist – Hedwiges Maduro)
PSV Eindhoven attacking midfielder Wijnaldum scoring within matter of minutes on the pitch. Valencia midfielder/defender Hedwiges Maduro provided the assist to him to score. A fine debut for the young player.
I think even with the rather disparaging state of the Eredivisie, the Elftal looked pretty much alive and vibrant. Most of the players ply their trade elsewhere in stronger leagues and I suppose that it helped maintain a better level of competency within the team. Gregory van der Wiel was the only player from Ajax Amsterdam (surprise, surprise) whereas PSV Eindhoven was represented by Erik Pieters, Kevin Strootman, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jeremain Lens. Luuk de Jong of FC Twente Enschede rounded up the Eredivisie stars in the lineup which faced San Marino.
What I liked best about this team was the absolute teamwork amongst the players. Fractious squads of Holland in the past have been racked by inner turmoil – Edgar Davids having famously said that ‘Hiddink should take his head out of players’ asses so that he could see better’ was evidence that the Dutch golden generation, for all their talent, was not worthy to be inscribed on the Euro 1996 trophy. They did well in World Cup 1998 but was unable to see of a resilient Brazil side who should teach their Copa America 2011 youngsters a thing or two about taking penalties.
If van Marwijk carries on with his management, we should soon see the Oranje finally winning something of note. Perhaps World Cup 2014 is too far away and lots could happen in just three years but we’ll see. For now, Oranje is top of the world and should not relinquish it for whatever reason – at least not to the accursed Spaniards.