In South Africa Holland will be making their ninth World Cup appearance. While they have never won the trophy, they have often been at the cutting edge of the game’s developments: In 1974 Holland introduced a new style of play that was soon to be called Total Football. That exciting team lost the final to West Germany, while four years later they went down again in the final game, to Argentina. Holland also finished fourth in 1998, under Guus Hiddink.

With eight wins in eight matches, Holland were the very first European nation to book their ticket to South Africa. Bert van Marwijck’s “elftal” went on to secure a 100% qualification record, with 24 points gained, 17 goals scored and just two conceded. The World Cup draw has seen the Oranje paired with Denmark, Cameroon and Japan in Group E.

The Coach

Bert van Marwijk (HOL)
58 years old

Bert van Marwijk took over after Euro 2008 and has lost just one game as national team boss. Having guided his team through qualification in style, van Marwijk has continued to enjoy a good relationship with the local press, boasting: “If I had the slightest idea we could not win I’d just stay at home.”

The 58-year-old has previously worked at Feyenoord and Borussia Dortmund, winning the 2002 UEFA Cup win the latter. In the summer of 2007, van Marwijk returned home after a spell in the Bundesliga, again taking charge of Feyenoord and winning the Dutch Cup. The coach’s daughter is married to Dutch international Mark van Bommel, who returned to the Oranje fold as soon as Marco van Basten departed: The two could not stand each other.

Players to watch

Arjen Robben
26 years old
Bayern Munich (GER)

Robben is widely considered the second fastest player in the world behind Cristiano Ronaldo, and he’s the first player to win four national titles in four different countries. The winger has enjoyed a fantastic season with Bayern Munich, winning the league and cup double and reaching the Champions League final. Having netted 23 goals for Bayern since joining last summer, he is in tip-top form and will be a real threat.



Wesley Sneijder
25 years old

Once in Milan, it only took one day for Sneijder to remind Real Madrid what they’d be missing by selling him to Inter in August. Given the number 10 shirt, he made an immediate impact, quickly becoming key to Jose Mourinho’s setup. The best player for Holland at Euro 2008, Sneijder arrives off the back of a remarkable Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League treble.

Robin van Persie
26 years old
Arsenal (ENG)

The 26-year-old is arguably the most skilled player Dutch football has produced in the last 15 years. He blends exquisite technique with great vision and a powerful shot. In Holland, van Persie is considered the prototype of a modern striker. An injury suffered last November, which kept him out for much of the season, should have allowed him to head to South Africa fresh.

Eljero Elia
23 years old
Hamburg (GER)

In 2008/09, Elia was voted Dutch Young Player of the Year. He then swapped FC Twente for Hamburg and proved his talent in the Bundesliga. The 23-year-old missed some of the campaign with injury, but has had an impressive start to life with the Oranje. Elia produced two assists on his debut against Japan and then four days later scored his first goal against Scotland. Although not a regular, Elia could well be Holland’s secret weapon on the left flank.

The view from Holland:

Local pundits believe their team could be serious contenders for the World Cup. “Everything is possible with the magic trio of Robben-Sneijder-van Persie”, wrote weekly magazine Voetbal International. However, words of warning come from Dutch player Koen Brack. “I fear we’ll play good football, have a lot of plaudits and win nothing, as usual.”


The Oranjes’ worst enemy has always been themselves. The Dutch have produced outstanding players, but regularly failed to come up with a truly great team – except for the ’74 World Cup. Dressing room turbulence has often veered them off course, with no better example than in 1990, when a team of stars such as van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Ronald Koeman were dumped out at the Round of 16 game without a single game won. If the Dutch can survive themselves, van Marwijk’s men have the quality to reach the semi-finals at least.

Did you know?

Dutch football always produces great free-kick takers, but who from Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie, Demy de Zeeuw and Ron Vlaar should take them? A poll in 2008 saw Sneijder receive an overwhelming 70% of the votes. But what about Vlaar, whose shots are 137 km/h?

Group games

14/06/10: Holland  2 – 0  Denmark     –   Soccer City , Johannesburg
19/06/10: Holland  1 – 0  Japan     –   Durban
24/06/10: Holland  2 – 1  Cameroon     –   Cape Town