Coach Louis van Gaal and the Netherlands are set to achieve a record none other ‘Oranje’ team has achieved before in Saturday’s third-place playoff against hosts Brazil.
After lamenting the insignificance of tonight’s crunch duel with the other semi-finals loser, the new Manchester United boss after all, hopes to inspire the first Dutch side to finish a FIFA World Cup undefeated.
‘There is still something for us to do,” said Van Gaal. “We can still write history because the Netherlands lost matches in 1974, 1978 and 2010.”
The Netherlands ended its last match against Argentina in stalemate but lost 4-2 on penalties to miss out on a third appearance in a World Cup final.
Having gotten off to a flying start in a 5-1 mauling of the soon-to-be-dethroned defending champions Spain, followed with subsequent victories over Australia and Group B runners-up Chile; Van Gaal’s team went on to beat Mexico in the second round and Costa Rica on penalties in the last 8, before conceding shootout luck to Argentina last Wednesday.
The 62-year-old had earlier described the third-fourth playoff match as “unfair”, but now hopes his team could give him a befitting send-forth against a wounded Brazil side, fresh from the agony of their 7-1 semi-final defeat by Germany on home soil.
Van Gaal said: “It was very, very sad and a dream has been broken. It’s not going to come back because it was all about being number one.
“Slowly but surely we are realising that we have to go for it. A Dutch team has never returned home unbeaten and that is now our aim. It’s going to be part of my speech that it will be my last match and I hope the players want to give me a present in the form of a victory, so that we remain undefeated.
“I hope I can prepare them to play a good match. It’s quite something to go seven matches unbeaten [in a World Cup].”