Sneijder still haunted by 2010 final defeat

Wesley Sneijder said he is still haunted by the Netherlands' loss to Spain four years ago ahead of their Group B opener on Friday.

The Netherlands, then coached by Bert van Marwijk, were beaten 1-0 in the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa, with Andres Iniesta settling the match four minutes from the end in extra time.

Now led by Dutchman Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands have the chance to exact some revenge against the defending champions when the two teams meet at the Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.

"That's really the low point of my career," the 30-year-old Galatasaray midfielder said. "I had to walk past the cup but could not hold it. It felt very sour. That will always be my rock bottom.

"We were so close to penalties and the game was still there, just three minutes before the end of extra time.

"It was a shame because we had beaten Brazil in the quarter-final, a night when we turned the whole game. I scored twice. Two goals, one with my head, and a 1-0 deficit turned into a place in the semi-finals.

"You just felt at one point that we were going to win. And then the final against Spain just went wrong."

The match will hold extra significance for Sneijder, who is set to earn his 100th international cap against Vicente del Bosque's men - only the sixth Dutchman to do so following Edwin van der Sar (130), Frank de Boer (112), Rafael van der Vaart (109), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (106) and Phillip Cocu (101).

Sneijder has had to overcome a number of hurdles to reach the century landmark, most noticeably in the past year after he was stripped of the Dutch captaincy in favour of Robin van Persie.

Many believed that signalled the end of Sneijder's international career but the former Inter man is adamant he still has plenty to offer heading into the World Cup.

"I'm not a captain, but still a leader," said Sneijder. "The team spirit is good, much better than two years ago (at Euro 2012).

"I will do everything to keep it that way. Because it's important at a major tournament. I know that from experience.

"These are my sixth major finals but I will keep going. You will see me in four years. This is a big week but it's only one game. We need a result against Spain. That's the point.

"We may not have a top team. But we play compact and can switch the ball quickly. We have a chance."


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