Sunday, June 11, 2006

Match seven and the Dutch come in action. My heart beats twice as fast, we are back. Last World Cup we did not qualify, something I thought could not happen. Orange fans and players had to come to reality. Our team is often favored but equally often, we fail to deliver. Egos in the team and on the sidelines have clashed in the past and overshadowed the task ahead. However, today’s team is different, Marco van Basten is in charge. Being a close friend of the Dutch football God Johan Cruiyff, the man who made the most praised goal in the history of the Dutch league, is widely loved and respected under both the fans and the player. The result of the orange team with him at the wheel exploded the popularity.
The stands are orange, the whistle blows, and we are playing in the world cup. The game is slow in the first minutes, but it seems the Dutch are getting control. I let a sigh of relief.
The attacks are getting more dangerous, but the Serbs come forward too. I shake my head, we passing the ball around to slow. We will have to play better. In the eleventh minute, Robben tries to trick his way pass two defenders. 'Pingelen' we call that in Holland, passing the ball will get more results.
The Serbs keep nibbling away at the Dutch dominance, but relief comes in the seventeenth minute. Robben gets the ball from a clever little lob at the half-line, he makes a sprint to the goal with a defender on his heels. Robben knows what needs to be done though, and at the eleven-meter line, he calculates and shoots the ball next to the keeper in the bottom left.


The Dutch turn up the heat, but the Serbs are creating dangerous counters. I turn to nail biting.
Minutes later Robben, again Robben, nearly settles all Dutch nail biting as he fires a shot to the left side of the goal, but the keeper of Serbia saves it nicely. It gives the Serbs back confidence, their counters are getting more dangerous.
Nevertheless, we, the Dutch, have the most ball possession so the Serbs are kept in check.
The TV shows Van Basten, the Dutch coach, sponging his face. It is going to be a hot summer in Germany.
There are several ‘close calls’ to finish the first half with a two nil lead. Van Persie tries to head it in the far right corner from 11 meters distance, he nearly succeeds.

But the Serbs keep the nails short, they execute a header of their own, on the Dutch goal. However, when the half-time whistle blows, it is still 0-1.
The Dutch start shaky in the second half, while the Serbs start the way the Dutch finished the first half. They are on the Dutch territory, putting on pressure.
"Get it together," I think.
"What is going on here," says the commentator.
A play back to the Dutch keeper, Van der Sar, nearly becomes a mistake.
Robben brings the Dutch danger back in the 51st minute. He is playing such a great game, maybe he is our next Johan Cruyff.
The Serbs keep countering and stay in the game, Van der Sar has to save the Dutch numerous times.
"Another one certainly will clinch it," says the commentator while Robben again test the keeper of Serbia.
The two nil did not come, it stayed nail biting until the end. Nevertheless, when the end did come the Dutch were victorious, our first win in the group of death. Moreover, we looked good enough for another one.