Netherlands vs. Denmark  2 - 0

Report

The Dutch controlled a lot of the ball in the first half and had Dirk Kuyt and Rafael van der Vaart go close, though a header just wide from Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner in the 28th minute may have been the best chance of the first half.

Despite enjoying a few good scoring chances and playing very solid defense in the first half, it all fell apart for Denmark within 30 seconds of the restart.

A cross into the six-yard box by Robin van Persie was headed away by Simon Poulsen, but his clearance went off the back of teammate Daniel Agger into the net for a brutal own goal and a 1-0 Dutch lead.

The Danes seemed deflated after that, and they lacked any structure in their attacks.

The introduction of Eljero Elia in place of van der Vaart sparked the Dutch with a bit of speed, and it paid off in the 85th minute when Elia's shot off the post came back for a Dirk Kuyt tap-in. Elia had made the run into the area after receiving a fine pass from Wesley Sneijder.

Article

We are satisfied: Sneijder

15 June 2010 10:13

(GSM) - Wesley Sneijder is satisfied after Netherlands win their World Cup opener 2-0 against Denmark in Johannesburg.

The Oranje were far from impressive before the interval, but they cruised to a 2-0 victory over Denmark with the help of Simon Poulsen own goal and a Dirk Kuyt tap-in.

"Of course we didn't play that well today, but we won, 2-0," he said.

"I think the win is the most important thing. Let's not forget that these Danes in the first half did an excellent job because they studied us very thoroughly. But we improved a lot in the second half and got the result. So we are satisfied."

The Inter playmaker also praised the ability and creativity of players, he added: "I think in the second half we did very well, by running, beating players and showing our creativity. Also on the bench we have some fantastic players, who can come in and really make the difference. They have creativity and good ability. At some point in the second half, we saw that. We had a player that came on and made a difference."

Article

Dutch 'beer babes' held at W.Cup stadium

15 June 2010 09:55

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - A group of 36 young Dutch fans in orange miniskirts were detained for several hours at Soccer City stadium for wearing outfits designed by a Dutch beer company, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

The dresses were sold with Bavaria Beer packs in the Netherlands in the run-up to the World Cup, but football governing body FIFA accused the young women of staging an ambush marketing campaign, The Star said.

"We were sitting near the front, making a lot of noise, and the cameras kept focusing on us," Barbara Kastein told the paper.

"In the second half, about 40 stewards surrounded us and forced us to leave the stadium," she said.

They were taken to a FIFA office where police quizzed them about the dresses and asked if they worked for Bavaria. More than three hours later, they were released and police said they would continue investigating, the paper said.

FIFA said the women were "used by a large Dutch brewery as an instrument for an ambush marketing campaign", although the dresses had no branding on them.

Budweiser, an official sponsor, is the only beer company allowed to advertise within the stadiums. FIFA fiercely protects its marketing interests, which are a major cash spinner for the organisation.

Article

Dutch grind out opening win over Danes

14 June 2010 15:25

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) - The Netherlands began their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over Denmark on Monday in their Group E match at Sports City.

Both goals came in the second-half with an own goal by Simon Poulsen and a late one from Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt giving the Dutch a perfect start to their campaign as they seek to put an end to having never won the trophy.

They will also be delighted to have taken the three points without injured winger Arjen Robben, who sat out the match but is expected to be available for the remaining two matches.

Article

Dutch tame Danes, Japan upset Cameroon

14 June 2010 13:20

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Netherlands joined fellow giants Argentina and Germany as first-match winners at the World Cup thanks to a 2-0 victory over Denmark at Soccer City Monday.

And the other Group E match produced a shock in Bloemfontein with Japan defeating Cameroon 1-0 thanks to a goal near half-time from Russia-based Keisuke Honda.

A comical Simon Poulsen own goal in the opening minute of the second half gave the Dutch a lead they doubled on 85 minutes when Dirk Kuyt tapped a rebound over the line.

It was a predictable outcome to the opening game in the group, which the Dutch are expected to dominate with Cameroon, Denmark and Japan fighting for second place and the other ticket to the second round.

Netherlands may lack the bevy of big names they took to previous tournaments, but there is a steely determination about this squad which suggests they could go far in the quest for a first World Cup title.

Denmark provided no surprises at the sun-drenched 90,000-seat stadium on the western outskirts of Johannesburg, defending resolutely but with limited options going forward.

"I have been saying this since I became head coach two years ago, we know what it means to be a favourite, we play good football and are very creative," said Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk.

Japan coach Takeshi Okada, who raised eyebrows by predicting a semi-finals place for a country that has never progressed beyond the second round, watched as Honda controlled a cross at the far post and stabbed the ball into the net.

Cameroon, considered strong candidates to join Netherlands in the last 16, disappointed with star striker Samuel Eto'o largely anonymous but they almost snatched a late draw with the woodwork foiling Stephane M'Bia.

Experienced campaigners Italy launch their World Cup defence against Paraguay in Cape Town late Monday with few pundits expecting them to go all the way again.

Surprise champions in Germany four years ago, the Azzurri (Blues) have done little in the past four years to suggest they can conquer the world again and join Brazil as five-time winners.

Fortunately for 2006 World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, his team are in one of the less daunting mini-leagues with the Paraguay clash followed by New Zealand in Nelspruit and Slovakia in Johannesburg.

Lippi, who steps down when Italy exit the first tournament hosted by Africa, says pre-tournament results like a 2-1 Brussels loss to Mexico that flattered the Italians are irrelevant.

"I can tell you we have a great will to do well. Friendlies are not crucial although injuries may have prevented us experimenting or doing some things I wanted," he stressed.

Italy are favoured to top the group with the Bloemfontein clash of Paraguay and debutants Slovakia likely to produce the runners-up and New Zealand given little chance of avoiding three losses in only their second appearance.

Article

Late Kuyt strike helps sink resilient Denmark

14 June 2010 12:20

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) - The Netherlands got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start on Monday with a 2-0 victory over Denmark thanks to an own-goal and a late tap-in from Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt.

The star-studded Dutch are among the favourites to win the World Cup in the final at Soccer City on July 11, but Bert van Marwijk's side failed to impress at the same venue here as the pragmatic Danes defended well.

An own goal by Danish defender Daniel Agger at the start of the second-half and Kuyt's 85th-minute effort were enough to give the Netherlands the three points.

"The players were a little tense and frustrated in the first-half, we wanted to play beautiful football, but we lost the ball too often," admitted van Marwijk.

"Things got better after the first goal, then you saw what we are capable of doing, we could have won by more. It was a huge relief when the second goal went in."

Intially, the own goal was credited to Simon Poulsen whose headed clearance came off Agger's back.

Danish coach Morten Olsen insisted Poulsen was not to blame.

"Simon Poulsen was actually our best player," he said. "That sort of thing happens to all players, but you want it to happen in training not in an important game like this."

Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst won his 100th cap and van Marwijk left out Arjen Robben to give the winger more time to recover from a torn thigh.

Despite the Dutch boasting a forward line including Arsenal striker Robin van Persie, supported by midfielders Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder, Kuyt and Real Madrid's Rafael van der Vaart, the Danish defence held firm.

Kuyt had the first chance on 10 minutes when he fired a shot at Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen who gathered the ball after an initial fumble.

Just as the Dutch attacked relentlessly, so the Danes soaked up the pressure in front of a 83,465-strong crowd.

Denmark created a chance of their own on 27 minutes when Ajax winger Dennis Rommedahl's pass found Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner at the far post, but he headed wide.

With the second-half barely underway, the Danes were rocked when Poulsen headed away a van Persie cross, but watched in disbelief as the ball rolled across the line off the shoulder of Agger on 46 minutes.

The Dutch were rarely tested with Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel bossing the midfield, but neither did the Netherlands pose much of a threat to the Danish defence until the game's last quarter.

Bendtner, who had not been expected to be fit enough to play, made way for Copenhagen's veteran Jesper Gronkjaer, while van der Vaart came off for Eljero Elia, who created the second goal.

The Dutch upped the ante in the last 15 minutes and after Elia hit the post, Kuyt was on hand to tap the ball past Sorensen.

The Dutch next face Japan in Durban on Saturday, the same day Denmark play Cameroon in Tshwane.

Article

Injury-hit Danes declare Dutch as favourites

13 June 2010 23:05

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) - Denmark coach Morten Olsen has admitted his team has injury concerns ahead of their opening World Cup match against the Netherlands on Monday and insists his side are the underdogs.

Werder Bremen midfielder Daniel Jensen, Feyenoord forward Jon Dahl Tomasson and Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner are all unlikely to start the Group E match having picked up injuries recently.

Bendtner has not played since May after suffering a groin injury while both Jensen and Tomasson trained separately from the rest of the squad here at the Soccer City Stadium on Sunday.

"We have been the favourites going into other games before in the past, but it is clear we are not here," said Olsen.

"The Netherlands are favourites, they have players at the top of their game. It is no excuse, but we have a lot of injury troubles.

"You start off with a fairytale and you try to get perfect preparation, but that is never possible in reality.

"We would have liked all 23 to be involved in all the sessions, but that has not been the case.

"Unfortunaley, Tomasson now has a small injury from last Friday and Daniel Jensen as well.

"The way things are looking right now, I have to say Bendtner cannot play against the Dutch."

Denmark have beaten Senegal, but lost to both Australia and South Africa in pre-World Cup friendlies here, but Olsen says his side are relishing the chance to take on the star-studded Dutch.

"It is a fantastic assignment for us, the Dutch, quite rightly, are saying they are favourites, but we want to prove them wrong," he said.

"We are ready, proud and excited to be here and to represent our country at such a big event."

When asked where he sees weaknesses in the Dutch, the Danish coach refused to be specific, but said his side will face a huge challenge to break down the Netherlands and he would be pleased to take a point off them.

"I think in some areas, you have to hope to make sure you are better, it is up to us to find some weaknesses in their game and exploit them," he said.

"A good result would be a draw for us."

Olson said he may start teenage Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen, who at 18 is one of the youngest players at the tournament.

"Christian is a very young guy, but he is good enough, he has the confidence and he has persuaded the squad he is a very good player," said Olsen.

"He may start the game, why not?"

Article

Preview: Netherlands - Denmark

13 June 2010 17:00

(GSM) - The Dutch masters will face Danish dynamite at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. Fans of the beautiful game will keep an eye on Dutch stars Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder who won't get support from Arjen Robben who has recovered from a hamstring injury but is not ready to face Denmark.

Danish coach Morten Olsen will put his trust in the strong centre halfs Simon Kjaer and Daniel Agger who will have to stay focused for more than 90 minutes as they face one of the world's best forward lines. Liverpool winger Dirk Kuyt and Real Madrid's Rafael van der Vaart will feature alongside Sneijder and Van Persie who will get support from Bayern München captain Mark van Bommel and Manchester City pitbull Nigel de Jong.

Oranje will hope to continue the outstanding form of their preparation matches in which they stunned Mexico, Ghana and Hungary. Denmark doestn't have the backing of great friendly results considering their disapponting displays against Australia and South Africa.

The Netherlands are favourite in their group with Denmark, Japan and Cameroon battling for second place. However, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk has warned his players ahead of the crucial first match.

"A lot of people will probably think that we will make it to the next round without too much trouble. However, our opponents shouldn't be underestimated," said Van Marwijk.

Star player Nicklas Bendtner is sidelined with an groin strain and won't be able to help his side against Oranje. He did had some mental support for his teammates: "It's important that we stay realistic. Of course we're going there to win the tournament, but having said that, we don't have the same means as other big countries," the Arsenal striker said.

"However, we'll do our very best. Denmark have produced plenty of upsets in football history, so why not again?"

Article

Robben will be ready to face Danes, says physio

10 June 2010 13:25

MUNICH, Germany (AFP) - Dutch winger Arjen Robben will be fit in time for the Oranje's opening World Cup game against Denmark next week, his physiotherapy Dick van Toorn claimed on Thursday.

The Bayern Munich winger has been battling the thigh injury he picked up in Holland's friendly win over Hungary last Saturday and while Holland flew to South Africa at the start of the week, Robben remained behind for treatment.

The 26-year-old is expected to fly to join up with the Dutch squad on Saturday and his physio Dick van Toorn says Bayern's star midfielder will be available for selection to face Denmark on Monday in Johannesburg.

"I think that he can play," the 77-year-old former Feyenoord physio, who has a reputation as a 'wonder-healer' told Munich newspaper TZ.

"If they don't want him to play for tactical reasons, then fair enough, but one cannot say that he will not be fit to play."

Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk has already said he will not select Robben for the Denmark game as the winger has played little football since last month's Champions League final defeat in Madrid and has hardly trained.

"But I say fit is fit. If Arjen no longer has any pain, then he is fit and then he must also play," insisted Van Toorn.

The intensive therapy on Robben's thigh started last Monday with three - often painful - sessions per day.

As well as plenty of stretching, Van Toorn also uses manual therapy, accupuncture and mild electric shocks.

The physio says Robben has dealt well with the pain.

"He is very keen to get to South Africa and to be fit for Bayern again," said Van Toorn.

If, as Van Toorn says, Robben is fit to play his recovery will have been remarkable as his injury normally takes at least five weeks to heal.

The Netherlands will also face Japan, on June 19, and Cameroon, on June 24, in their Group E campaign.

Article

Dutch courage not needed for Van Marwijk's team

4 December 2009 22:40

CAPE TOWN (AFP) - A red-hot qualifying campaign earned the Netherlands a seeding for the World Cup and coach Bert van Marwijk is happy with the way the draw panned out for his talented team.

The in-form Oranje go into next year's tournament against fellow Europeans Denmark, dangerous African opponents Cameroon and a Japan side that insists it can make the semi-finals.

But Van Marwijk's star-sprinkled team are clearly favourites to top the group and he made clear he was satisfied with the draw, despite also warning that they should not take their opponents lightly despite winning all eight of their qualifying games.

"A lot of people will probably think that we will make it to the next round without too much trouble. However, our opponents shouldn't be underestimated," he told Dutch journalists.

"We are drawn in a very interesting group. I'm glad that we start with a match in Johannesburg, close to where we will stay."

The Dutch will be making their ninth World Cup appearance, with runner-up spots during their heyday in the 1974 and 1978 tournaments the highlight so far.

But with players like Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt, Mark van Bommel and Robin van Persie at his disposal, Van Marwijk will fancy their chances of finally lifting the trophy, although they can be vulnerable at the back.

He must be careful of Denmark, who finished ahead of Portugal, Sweden and Hungary in qualifying, while Japan are tenacious and have made the round of 16 before.

"It will be the fourth World Cup finals for Japan and we are aiming for a top four spot. We don't intend to change our goal and we continue to aim for a top four spot," insisted Japan coach Takeshi Okada.

With the Dutch seemingly superior, ultimately it could be all about who finishes second and Paul Le Guen's Cameroon, whose appearance in South Africa will be a record sixth for an African nation, could sneak it.

The Africans can be physically intimidating and will be buoyed by 'home' support. They also boast three-time African Footballer of the Year Samuel Eto'o, who rivals Ivorian Didier Drogba as the best striker from the continent.

Cameroon, along with Senegal, have gone furthest of the African qualifiers for previous tournaments with the 'Indomitable Lions' reaching the last eight in 1990.

Article

No underestimation for Van Marwijk

4 December 2009 20:13

(GSM) - Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk could live with the result of the World Cup draw but wasn't too enthousiastic about it: "I think a lot of people will be relieved by this result but when you look further you know we're not in for an easy ride."

On Friday it came clear that the Netherlands will face Denmark, Japan and Cameroon in the group stages of the World Cup. "The Danes topped a qualification group which included Portugal, Sweden and Hungary."

"Than it's clear you they can't be underestimated," Van Marwijk said. "We booked a flattered win against Japan recently. That match showed their strength while Cameroon is among the strongest African countries."