JOHANNESBURG - Netherlands have been putting results above their usual priority of flair at this World Cup and coach Bert van Marwijk's new approach has received the stamp of approval from some of his predecessors.
The Dutch became the first side to qualify for the knockout phase with clinical Group E wins over Denmark and Japan that did not feature the entertaining brand of football that earned them global admiration on previous occasions.
The attractive approach, expected by fans and the media, has not always led to the best results and former Netherlands coaches Leo Beenhakker and Dick Advocaat said they understood the new pragmatic approach.
"In the Netherlands we always have to play good football first and then win, and this coach seems to step down from that, he is practical," Beenhakker, Netherlands coach in 1990, was quoted as saying in Dutch daily newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.
"After all the credit (for stylish play) at previous World Cup tournaments, he just wants to win the title."
Netherlands, runners-up in 1974 and 1978, have long espoused a coaching philosophy of passing, wing play and encouraging technical skills.
"Bert van Marwijk is just looking for the right balance. Playing well ... but always thinking about the result, and I like that," added Beenhakker.
Advocaat, who took the Dutch to the 1994 quarter-finals, was pleased with their showing in South Africa so far.
"The Dutch are doing wonderfully. Two matches won and already through to the last 16, that gives them rest," he said.
"They just have a good team, otherwise you would not be unbeaten for 21 matches. And if (injured winger Arjen) Robben is back they will just compete for the trophy."
Netherlands face eliminated Cameroon on Thursday in Cape Town in their final group stage match.comments