DURBAN - Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk has revealed the alchemy behind building a united World Cup squad - not being nice and friendly.
The Dutch have not displayed their usual attacking flair in reaching the last 16 but neither has there been any of the open squabbling that has so often marked their campaigns.
On the eve of their second round game with Slovakia at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Van Marwijk said he had made his position on team unity clear when he took charge after Euro 2008.
"The most important message is the message I gave from day one," he told a news conference on Sunday.
"You see the words 'team' and 'team-building' sound nice and friendly. But if you are nice and friendly at this level, I really don't think you would make it.
"You really don't have to be genuine friends but you have to accept each other's qualities and respect each other's qualities. Only then will you be a really good team.
"And I think that has happened to us and that's why some of the players have grown closer and everybody sees that and that creates a lot of reassurance and calmness around the team."
That calmness is a far cry from previous tournaments where player fall-outs and criticism of the coach were common.
The great Johan Cruyff and Wim van Hanegem retired from the national team before the 1978 World Cup after one rift.
Midfielder Edgar Davids was sent home from Euro '96 for suggesting coach Guus Hiddink was favouring certain players.
As recently as Euro 2008, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder argued over who should take a freekick against Russia in the quarter-final. Netherlands lost 3-1 in extra time.comments