Defeated Dutch finalists arrive home

Amsterdam: Holland`s defeated World Cup team arrived home late Monday with their plane escorted into Dutch airspace by an air force F-16 fighter jet painted orange, the national colour.

After touching down at Amsterdam`s Schiphol airport, the players were greeted with flowers and taken by bus to a hotel on the North Sea coast.

On Tuesday, Queen Beatrix and outgoing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende will greet the players before an official welcome is held in Amsterdam.

Hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to take part in the festivities, which are to include a boat trip through the city`s canals, followed by a reception at the city`s Museum Square.

The boat trip was originally reported to have been cancelled after the team lost Sunday night`s final 0-1 to Spain, but city officials said Monday that it would definitely take place.

The nation`s disappointment at losing the final turned violent at some of the fanfests held across the country, leading to dozens of people being taken into temporary custody.

Some 40 people were detained in The Hague when about 200 fans went on the rampage after the final whistle in South Africa. Other flashpoints were Den Bosch, Maastricht and Venlo.

The Dutch media gave generally favourable coverage of the team`s performance, which was characterised as excessively robust by the international media.

Some 14 yellow cards were handed out in the match in Johannesburg, eight of them to Dutch players. A Dutch player was also sent off.

A newspaper said the Dutch team `fought like lions`. It also raised the question of whether Spain`s goal should have been disallowed because of an offside infringement shortly beforehand.

"Netherlands silver, Spain gold," wrote a daily. "What began as a happy festival in towns and villages ended with one big hangover... It was a competitive, not a brilliant game. Both teams were too nervous to deliver an advertisement for football."



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