Holland keep a cool head
Wednesday 10 September 2008
A game that seemed decided at 0-2
got tight in the end.
After the final whistle the new
manager could be relieved and celebrate the victory
with a big hug for his assistants Phillip Cocu, Frank
de Boer and Cooky Voorn.
"It was a warm night, especially
after they pulled one back," captain Giovanni van
"We deservedly went 2-0 up
and I think we deserve a big compliment as we went the
distance. The first step towards the World Cup has been
successful. Now we must continue on this path."
It was interesting to see how Oranje
stood their ground after the Macedonian goal by Goran
Pandev, 15 minutes from time. The forward converted
a spot kick after a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar foul was penalized
For the silenced crowd in the City
Stadium in Skopje it was the signal to loudly support
their team again.
In the past it would happen that
Holland lost their heads, the team now remained cool
Holland were hanging by their fingernails
a few times, but four days after they upset Scotland
Macedonia were unable to again surprise a bigger team.
Holland's victory was deserved,
though the performance was never brilliant, except for
one stretch of the game.
Holland's second goal by Rafael
van der Vaart symbolized what Bert van Marwijk expects
of his team.
The goal was created by a collective
A few players put pressure on the
Macedonian defense, and repossessed the ball that was
played deep by Van Bommel immediately into the feet
of Van der Vaart on the edge of the box, who finished
It was a series of quick handling
that seem to decide international football more and
more often these days.
It was also a sequence Holland
were unable to repeat throughout the rest of the game.
After a broiling hot day the game
started in a comfortable evening temperature in the
lineup that had been expected, with Robben replacing
Babel as the only change to the lost game against Australia.
The plan was clear: keep the field
wide when in possession and try to get through over
A second option was to get offensive
midfielder Van der Vaart into play, who played in-between
But it rarely happened.
That was partially due to the condition
of the pitch, visibly by the extra touches all players
needed when controlling the ball.
But it was also due to the decisions
of the players, who often didn't see the opportunities
that were there.
The home team allowed Holland possession
and sat back on a wall of five defenders hoping for
a quick counter attack through the only two players
with a bit of international class: forwards Naumoski
The duo tried to stir up the fire
from the start, diving a lot and being theatrical.
They succeeded only by getting
Robin van Persie the first yellow card of the game when
the Arsenal striker roughly brought down Lazio Roma
After 35 minutes the star of Macedonian
football thought he had opened the score, but his goal
was disallowed for offside.
After the break a second goal also
did not get the consent of the Polish referee Gilewski.
The opener on the other side did.
After a quickly taken freekick
Heitinga reacted well on a deflected Robben cross and
It was the Atletico Madrid player's
sixth international goal and the start of Holland's
With Dirk Kuyt and Ibrahim Afellay
replacing Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben Holland
managed to secure the three points, despite Pandevs
On the other side Holland squandered
two good chances to score a third goal.