(Reuters) – Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk has not seen his team kick a ball in competition at this World Cup yet but that has not stopped him finding fault with much of what he has seen so far.
On Sunday, it was the new Jabulani ball which added another crease to the brow of the irascible Dutch boss although the altitude was also a concern not to mention the ubiquitous vuvuzela trumpet and problematic itches.
“So far every free kick I saw went far over the goal while cross passes proved hard to control,” Van Marwijk told a news conference after Dutch training at Soccer City ahead of Monday’s opening Group E clash with Denmark there.
“During our training camp in Austria we also experienced problems with the ball at a higher altitude but during the warm up matches in Rotterdam the ball reacted normally.”
Besides the problems with the ball and the much-discussed vuvuzela trumpets which have made a terrific din during the matches played so far and have been banned by him from training sessions, Van Marwijk also found time to find a problem with the pitches.
“The pitches are good and even but the foundation is harder than we are used to so it is tougher to keep standing.
“As for the noise from the (vuvuzela) horns, playing with earplugs is not an option as the players wouldn’t be able to hear each other so that wouldn’t improve things.”
To add to Van Marwijk’s concerns, his key player, winger Arjen Robben was still unable to train with the rest of the squad following a hamstring injury picked up last weekend.
“Robben trained separately at Wits (University) and follows the same program like we did when we arrived and it is better for him to use a whole pitch,” he added.
Even when he turned his attention to Group E, which also includes Japan and Cameroon, Van Marwijk found it hard to look on the bright side even though his men are firm favorites to progress as its winners.
“We know the Danes very well and they know us, so we have no surprises for each other,” he said. “But you saw yesterday at the England match that nobody wins their opener easily.”
(Editing by Jon Bramley)