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Dutch struggle to digest World Cup dismay

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Dutch struggle to digest World Cup dismay

Postby FCBayernNews » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:00 pm

In Munich it was a motorcade, but in Amsterdam, you'd have to call it a 'barge-o-cade'. Mark van Bommel, Arjen Robben, Edson Braafheid and the rest of the Netherlands squad all took to the canals of Amsterdam on Tuesday to acknowledge their fans. The World Cup runners-up were earlier received by Queen Beatrix and Prime Minister Balkenende, while the parade through the city finished with a major festival on the famous museum square.

Ahead of the celebration, the mood in the Elftal camp remained subdued. "It's hard, just like it was after the Champions League final," Robben revealed to fcbayern.de. The player made no secret of his distress at seeing his World Cup dream crumble. "We were so close. It really hurts. We may never get a chance like that again," the FCB star lamented.

Robben, Casillas and the ref

Spain ultimately won the hard-fought Final 1-0, but it could easily have gone the other way. On 62 minutes, Robben strode towards goal with only Iker Casillas to beat, but the keeper threw out a leg and saved. "There's no excuse. I have to put it away," the winger acknowledged. He again failed to beat his former Real Madrid team-mate with just seven minutes of normal time remaining. "I was definitely fouled by Puyol as I ran towards goal," insisted Robben, "but I didn't go to ground, because I thought I could still score." However, there was no whistle, and Casillas claimed the ball.

English referee Howard Webb was the target of much Dutch criticism for that and a number of other decisions. The match official, who also took charge of the Champions League final between Bayern and Inter in May, was pilloried by the Spanish too: in a bruising encounter, the men in orange could easily have been reduced to nine men after barely half an hour. "The referee was the biggest influence on the course of the match," said Louis van Gaal, who watched the game from the Soccer City grandstand.

Bitter taste of defeat

"Spain had more openings, but Arjen Robben twice had great chances to score for us. If he had, we'd probably be world champions," Oranje boss Bert van Marwijk reflected. Instead, Andres Iniesta blasted the only goal of the game with only four minutes of extra-time remaining. "It's hard to take, especially as the goal came just before the end," said Robben.

The deep disappointment at the Netherlands' third defeat in as many World Cup final appearances travelled with the players and coaching staff along the Amsterdam canals on Tuesday. Pride at reaching the final so impressively might be the dominant emotion in a couple of weeks, Robben thought, "but not right now." The warm reception on coming home should at least kick-start the process of accepting defeat and moving on.
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