Holland boss van Marwijk can see Kuyt flying high against Uruguay
Published 06/07/2010 | 06:27
England's World Cup quest may have been disappointingly brief, but the Premier League can still enjoy some reflected glory from Holland's charge to the semi-finals.
The Dutch take on Uruguay in Cape Town tonight looking to recreate the 1970s glory era, with coach Bert van Marwijk placing his trust in Dirk Kuyt and Robin van Persie.
Neither man enjoyed the best of domestic seasons and Van Persie has not always cut a contented figure in South Africa amid rumours of a sour relationship with star man Wesley Sneijder, but Van Marwijk is happy to have the duo on board for a journey that took such an unexpected twist with that fabulous quarter-final triumph over Brazil.
“I read somewhere that when Rafael Benitez picked a team at Liverpool, he wrote Kuyt's name down first. That says everything,” Van Marwijk said.
“Every player has a period where things don't work out and Liverpool had a very tough year, but Kuyt is extremely important for us.”
Van Persie was out of action for five months after suffering a major ankle injury on international duty last November.
It has taken the Arsenal star a bit of time to find his form, with just one goal so far, but Van Marwijk believes the 26-year-old remains a major influence.
“Robin is extremely talented,” he said. “He is one of the best football players on this planet.
“Players with so much talent can suddenly decide a game. I always believe in him and still do.”
Arjen Robben may have quit English football in 2007, but he still attracts plenty of attention.
Ahead of a game that has been punctuated by questions over Luis Suarez's glorification of the blatant handball that gave Uruguay their shot at glory, Robben's conduct has not gone unnoticed either.
Robben has always had a tendency to go to ground at the first available opportunity, which has been highlighted in recent days.
Even Van Marwijk admits there are times when the Bayern Munich star has gone too far, although he insists Robben has cleaned up his act.
“He doesn't do it deliberately,” Van Marwijk added. “Arjen is incredibly fast and creative. He faces up to opponents and you do fall, or get pushed.
“Maybe he has done things in the past that he shouldn't but he has learned and doesn't do it any more.”