Johannesburg: It is high time the Netherlands translated their traditionally beautiful game into title-winning football, according to World Cup captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Sunday.
The Dutch, who open their campaign on Monday against Denmark in Group E, are not among the top favourites to win July 11’s final but many neutrals are expecting them to play some of the best soccer.
Van Bronckhorst wants them to play stylish but winning football after many of his illustrious Dutch predecessors such as Johan Cruyff ended up without a big international tournament winners’ medal.
Only Ruud Gullit’s 1988 European Championship team have finished as winners on a big stage.
“It started in 1974 and we always played beautiful football but only won one prize and we have to change that,” Van Bronckhorst told a news conference at the Soccer City stadium on Sunday.
The 35-year-old, who will quit football after the World Cup, pointed out that since Bert van Marwijk took over from Marco van Basten things have changed and the team can now win even when they are not playing well.
“We proved over the last two years that we can even win matches in which we didn’t have the form and during the last two qualifiers with nothing at stake we managed to stay focussed.”
Van Bronckhorst, who is set to win his 100th cap against the Danes, said that the Dutch World Cup squad have become a tight group.
“We have players in the team that can make the difference but we are not depending on them because we really have grown over the last few years and now we have to carry that on,” he added.