Netherlands can’t afford sloppiness, Van Marwijk warns players


Durban: Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk warned his players against overconfidence ahead of Monday’s round of 16 match against Slovakia.

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He said that midfielder Rafael van der Vaart unlikely to play owing to a calf injury, with star winger Arjen Robben likely to start the match on the bench as he continues his recovery. Striker Robin van Persie, on the other hand, appeared to have recovered from his ankle troubles.

“We very often have a period when we play less well, when we’re ahead,” van Marwijk told a press conference Sunday in Durban.

But now, in the knock-out rounds, that can be fatal.

“We can’t afford that,” said the coach, who added that he had told the players just that. “If something like that happens again, we’re going home.”

Slovakia have already downed one giant in their first World Cup ever, no less than defending champions Italy, and are hoping to do the same against the Dutch.

“The players really thoroughly understand what this is about, where we are, and how important this match is,” van Marwijk said.

Still, he praised his side for their growing team spirit and for the “stable impression” they have made with their performances in their first-round matches. At the same time, he acknowledged that there is room for improvement.

“It wasn’t spectacular, so we can get better,” he said.

The Netherlands coach said his men face a tough match against Slovakia, who according to van Marwijk showed great progress throughout the group round and deserved to beat Italy.