Elia gives Van Marwijk added option

JOHANNESBURG - Netherlands winger Eljero Elia needed only 23 minutes of the World Cup Group E 2-0 opening win against Denmark to give coach Bert van Marwijk one big positive from an otherwise disappointing performance.

With Arjen Robben still sidelined through a hamstring injury, Van Marwijk had tried pairing playmaker Rafael van der Vaart with Wesley Sneijder in the Dutch midfield on Monday - without success.

But the 23-year-old's introduction midway through the second half finally gave the coach the width on the left wing he was looking for and Elia immediately set up a threatening attack after skipping past two defenders.

Then, five minutes from time, Elia created the second deciding Dutch goal when his right-footed attempt hit the post and Dirk Kuyt had the easiest of chances to tap in the rebound.


Elia's cameo obviously delighted his coach, giving him the kind of extra option any World Cup manager would want to have.

"We have several weapons and we can use them in several ways," Van Marwijk told NOS-TV television when asked about the impact of Elia, who was making his World Cup debut in only his 10th appearance for his country.

The coach would also have approved of the player's cool approach as he answered reporters' questions later following his excellent World Cup debut.

"Of course this feels good, this is why you do it, to show the world who you are," Elia said.

"This is my dream and now I hope I will get my chance again in the next match. It would be perfect if I could start."

In many ways, Elia resembles the missing Robben although Van Marwijk will hope he is not quite so injury-prone as the Bayern Munich flyer.

He certainly seems to have a cool head like Robben.

"When I take on a defender I never think about it, I just get past him," he added.

"I don't feel nerves and never did. It was good I could bring something extra."

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