Dutch their own harshest critics after defeat

AMSTERDAM - The Dutch, known for sometimes being blunt and direct, did not mince their words in criticising their team's defeat by Spain in the World Cup final.

Netherlands have never won the trophy in the tournament's 80-year history but hopes were high that their third appearance in the final would finally see them cast off the unwanted label of being "the best team never to have won the World Cup."

"In 1974 we were the best. In 1978 we were better. In 2010 we were just not good enough," said Monday's Daily Telegraaf, the nation's highest-circulation newspaper.

The 1-0 extra-time loss came after uncharacteristically rough play by the Dutch in an apparent attempt to disrupt Spain's rhythm, dashing hopes of a classic match between two teams that had never won football's biggest prize.

"We deserved to lose," was a common phrase heard in offices and posted on social networking websites on Monday.

After wild cheering before and during the match, orange-clad Dutch fans hopped on their bicycles following the defeat at Soccer City in Johannesburg and trudged home in silence.

"And now the hangover," headlined the NRC newspaper.

Citing the lack of attacking play and the many fouls, the daily Volkskrant said: "It is time for some reflection."

Dampening the mood further on Monday was torrential rain that hampered efforts to clean up the litter left by the 180,000 that gathered in Amsterdam's Museum Square to watch the match.

The team will be hoping the rain stops falling beause they are due to have a canal parade in Amsterdam after the city reversed an earlier decision to call it off if they lost.

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