Netherlands vs Cameroon
Thursday 24 June was supposed to be the day on which Group E was decided – but only one fixture will be of relevance to qualification in this section. With the Netherlands having already booked their place in the knockout stages, the battle will now be between Japan and Denmark to join them in the last 16.
In Cape Town, meanwhile, Cameroon, who have already crashed out of the competition after back-to-back defeats, will take on the Dutch in a match that, despite the lack of tension, promises much in the way of entertainment.
Netherlands-Cameroon, Green Point Stadium, Thursday 24 June, 20:30 (local time)
The Indomitable Lions will be out to erase memories of what has been a below-par performance at South Africa 2010. While the Indomitable Lions will feel they have let themselves down considering the quality they have in their squad, this match with the Netherlands offers them the opportunity to go out on a high. The postmortem will surely follow once they return home, but for now there is a chance to address some of the failures that have beset their campaign, spefically an inability to finish chances.
However, in the Oranje corner stands an impressive Netherlands side still boasting an umblemished record at this event. With his side already through, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk will surely be tempted to ring the changes in an effort to test the depth of his squad in preparation for what he hopes will be a long FIFA World Cup campaign. Alternatively, he may opt to field a full-strength side to maintain continuity and reaffirm his team’s status among the early favourites. It is also possible that Van Mariwjk will use the match to test the fitness of winger Arjen Robben, who has thus far been sidelined by injury.
Dirk Kuyt vs Benoit Assou-Ekotto
The Dutch have built their game around attack and speed while relying on solid defenders. They certainly have a bunch of attacking-minded stars capable of ambushing any opponents, including Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie and Robben to name just a few. However, another figure and a man who is a seasoned campaigner in this Dutch side is Dirk Kuyt. The Liverpool forward has been one of the unsung heroes of this Netherlands side. Despite a trying season at club level, Kuyt has been on top form at this FIFA World Cup, scoring a late goal against Denmark.
Ailing Cameroon, to their credit, have always attempted to play offensively, even though there has been little coherence in their play. One one of their more impressive players has been 26-year-old Tottenham player, Assou-Ekotto at left back. Solid in defence, he is also one of the Idomitable Lions’ most potent attacking weapons.
2 – the number of times the two sides have met before. Netherlands won the last encounter 1-0 in 2006. Before that, they had played out a scoreless draw in 1998. Both matches were international friendlies.
The players words
Cameroon coach, Paul Le Guen:
We have to keep on going, stay professional until the end, prepare the practice sessions for the game against the Netherlands. It’s not a friendly game, it’s a World Cup game and we have to respect the Cameroonian people and the competition itself, all the spectators and TV viewers as well.
Netherlands coach, Bert van Marwijk:
I take the match against Cameroon very seriously because it is in that match that the team has to show what they have learned. And we want to improve in every match and it is important for the players to know exactly what is asked of them in every position. Therefore, the match against Cameroon is also a match in which we have to improve ourselves. So I take it very seriously in many aspects.
Have your say
Can Cameroon salvage some pride against a Dutch side that is on the rampage?