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Frustrated Dutch fans rally behind Oranje with festive welcome
Team paraded through canals of Amsterdam
Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill
THE HAGUE/AMSTERDAM - The initial frustration of loosing the World Championship title to Spain in what many feel was an uninspiring game, turned into a huge demonstration of spontaneous cheer and patriotism towards winning a prestigious second place in the World Cup finals. The Dutch team's performance was celebrated at the Museumplein in the Dutch capital after the induction into the Order of Oranje Nassau knighthood of coach and captain and a visit to Palace Noordeinde in The Hague for tea with Queen Beatrix.
Before arriving at the Museum Square (in Dutch plein) venue, where hundreds of thousand of fans cheered the arrival of the team, Oranje had paraded by boat through Amsterdam's famed canals. Along the canal route were hundreds of thousands lined up with flags, torches, and balloons. Dozens of fans jumped in the canal to get a closer glimpse of their heroes. At the Square, the players spent time with the crowd and appeared at times to be as much overjoyed as the fans.
The Square exploded when master of ceremonies Edwin Evers introduced Oranje’s defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who in turn introduced the team to the massive crowd on the square. Goalie Maarten Stekelenburg and Wesley Sneijder (shirt number 10), the midfielder who scored five times in the seven games Oranje played in the series, received the biggest applause but the loudest cheers were unmistakably reserved for coach Bert van Marwijk. The team's leader bowed deeply, commenting “I make a deep deep bow for you, the fans, and would like to thank you deeply.”
Sitting on teammate Kuyt’s shoulders, top scorer Sneijder overlooked the massive gathering of fans on the square, while Van Marwijk quipped that they had heard about the Dutch vibes in South Africa but that they had not expected anything like this. Forward Arjen Robben was heard to say that Spain may have won the world championship, but the Dutch are the best supporters in the world!
Oranje's coach Bert van Marwijk said he deeply regretted the international coverage of the finals in which his team suddenly was portrayed as having played a dirty game. He did not think that this represented the game and the team and that it definitely did not represent his style. He acknowledged that there were some unfortunate incidents but failed to see how these could be extreme, adding that he would replay the games and study the footage. He pointed out that the number of yellow cards also had to do with the referee and said that at least four yellow cards and one red card were unjustly given. Van Marwijk thought his team played with great discipline and focus. Oranje lost the finals at the very end of the first overtime segment when Spain netted the only goal of the match (but beat third-place Germany without playing them.)
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told the nation that the team needs to be judged on their whole World Cup series cup performance, not on one game or on one detail. He found the outcome a tremendous achievement for the Dutch, one noted by people all over the globe. If we had won the title, Balkenende said, no one would have criticized the game. Oranje was a real team, with real power, which they had not had that for a while, according to the Dutch Prime Minister. Balkenende called Oranje strong, both mentally and physically, a tight and harmonious unit, disciplined, on a mission, with resilience, power and confidence.