Emotional Van Marwijk joins Dutch masters

CAPE TOWN - Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk put himself in the same bracket as coaching greats Rinus Michels and Ernst Happel when his team beat Uruguay 3-2 on Tuesday to reach their first World Cup final since 1978.

The Dutch reached back-to-back finals in the 70's managed by Michels in 1974 and Happel four years later but suffered defeats against the hosts West Germany and Argentina respectively.

The normally stoic Van Marwijk was fighting tears when he tried to explain what his team had just achieved by beating the South Americans at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town.

"It is hard to comprehend, such a small country, but not a small footballing country, reaching the World Cup final," Van Marwijk told a news conference.

"We started two years ago with this squad and said from the beginning that you have to believe in it but that has been quite a process to get to where we are now."

Van Marwijk revealed that it reminded him of his success with Feyenoord in 2002 when the Dutch side won the UEFA Cup.

Then they also did not have on paper the best players but he managed to build a real team that overcame more heralded opponents to clinch the last major European club trophy for the Netherlands.

"It wasn't easy but finally the whole team started to believe that it is possible to win this title," he added.

"But like has happened too often in the past, when we play beautiful football, we have to be careful we aren't satisfied too early.

"Against Uruguay we started well but then we lost control of the midfield but managed to regain it."

Van Marwijk said that he built discipline into the team and that all the players knew their role but they also had to dare play their own game.

Against Brazil in the quarter-final, the Dutch showed too much respect for the top-ranked opponents in the first half but according to the coach in the semi-final they had to re-organise after Uruguay battled back into the match before halftime.

"I set that straight at halftime and after that we were a bit differently organised and started to play better and then we had the individual qualities to settle it," he said.

"The relief was enormous and wonderful but we are not done yet, we have still got one match to play."

The Dutch will play either Germany or Spain in Sunday's final at Johannesburg's Soccer City. The two finalists of Euro 2008 meet in the second semi-final in Durban later on Wednesday.

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