World Cup: Dutch triumvirate carry Cup hopes

World Cup: Dutch triumvirate carry Cup hopes
Robin van Persie (R) of the Netherlands fights for the ball with James Chester of Wales during their international friendly football match in Amsterdam June 4, 2014.

International friendly


(Arjen Robben 32, Jeremain Lens 76)


They exited Euro 2008 as the most exciting team of the tournament.

They ended their 2010 World Cup campaign in painful fashion, losing to an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner in the final.

Holland are desperate to shake off the tag of football's "nearly men".

Judging from their comfortable 2-0 win over Wales in a friendly yesterday morning (Singapore time), they are almost ready for the World Cup in Brazil.

But to go all the way, they are counting on the same three men who took them to the brink of a first World Cup win four years ago.


With Robin van Persie, 30, Arjen Robben, 30, and Wesley Sneijder, 29, in his ranks, coach Louis van Gaal has a solid attacking platform to launch another tilt at football's biggest prize.

It was Robben who broke the deadlock against a Welsh side determined to defend in numbers in Amsterdam, following a van Persie shot which the goalkeeper could only parry.

The wing wizard has had a fine season with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and heads to Brazil arguably at the peak of his prowess.

He will also have redemption on his mind.

In that final against Spain in South Africa, he spurned the best chance of the game in normal time when set free on goal by Sneijder. But, with only Iker Casillas to beat, he couldn't put the ball past the goalkeeper's legs.

Yesterday, however, Robben was at the right place at the right time to beat Wayne Hennessey to give Holland a well-deserved 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute.

Van Persie, the one who made it happen, will be eager to put a troubled season behind him.

As Manchester United laboured through their worst league campaign for years, van Persie drew plenty of flak.

His desire was questioned as a result. But there was no evidence of lethargy in an orange shirt.


In the build-up to Robben's goal, it was the striker's nifty footwork on the left side of the penalty box that opened up the space for his initial shot.

Despite missing the final six weeks of last season with a knee injury, he looked sharp and ready to take on the mantle of Holland's goal-machine.

He was withdrawn at half-time of the Wales match as a "precaution", after appearing to suffer from a groin problem.

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