No fear of Spanish game

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:40 PM ET

JOHANNESBURG -- A steadfast Bert Van Marwijk sat at the front of the interview room, scanned the sea of reporters who were hooked on his every word, then proclaimed: "I will say this for the 10th time -- we are not afraid."

Of Spain? Or the media? After his press conference had concluded Thursday, it was obvious he feared neither.

In a 25-minute span, the manager of the Dutch national team refused to be sucked in by the attempts of the various ink-stained wretches and talking television heads on hand to find some kind of angle -- any angle -- that might spice up the pre-game hype leading into Sunday's World Cup final match between his orange-clad squad and a Spain side that looks, on the surface, to be quite invincible.

At one point, Van Marwijk was asked which job he excelled at more: player or coach. The press officer sitting beside him obviously didn't like the query.

"What are you better as -- a player or a journalist?" the PR guy snapped back at Van Marwijk's inquisitor.

Feeling a bit of pressure here, guys?

In actuality, it is easy to believe Van Marwijk when he claims his team will not quiver when looking straight into the eyes of the alleged mighty Spanish. Nor should he.

Under Van Marwijk's reign, the Dutch have reeled off 14 consecutive World Cup victories, including eight in qualifying and six in South Africa.

While that run is quite impressive, it has received little play here. The stat that has stolen the spotlight has been the impressive Spanish mark of 32-2 since they captured the 2008 Euro title with a 1-0 victory over Germany in Vienna.

Even the Dutch manager is impressed. But that, he said, will not keep his team from showing up, despite what the prognosticators might think.

"Spain are the best team in the world in the last years," Van Marwijk said. "We respect them but we are not afraid. It's a big challenge to play against Spain and beat them (but) it doesn't interest me when the whole world says they are favourites. Both countries want to win and can win. We have confidence in ourselves."

Sorry, Dutch fans, but that's about all the chest pounding you will get from the low-key Van Marwijk, who has seen The Netherlands reach the final for only the third time, 1974 and 1978 being the others.

"(Those teams) are an inspiration because this is the third time that we have reached the final," he said. "But you can't compare now with something that happened 30 years ago."

Actually, it's 32 years to be precise. But don't try to correct him. That might be a sign that the media might be trying to intimidate him.

And, has been made perfectly clear, the Dutch "are not afraid." Of Spain. Or of reporters.


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