Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Spain strike gold as Oranje see red

Spain strike gold as Oranje see red

Spain strike gold as Oranje see red


Netherlands midfielder Nigel de Jong (left) puts his boot into Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso during the 2010 World Cup final Sunday. AFP

English referee Howard Webb (front right) shows a red card to Netherlands defender John Heitinga (front left) during extra time. AFP

IN the 1970s, the Dutch won fans across the world with the brand of “total football” that carried them to two World Cup finals. On Sunday night in Johannesburg, they won few fans with their new contribution to the vocabulary of the beautiful game: ‘total thuggery’.

Those who watched the way the Netherlands fought their way back into the quarterfinal with Brazil, when 1-0 down at half time, were forewarned. Victory at all costs is the new Dutch motto.

But they did not win.

Fittingly it was one of the tournament’s standout players, Andres Iniesta, who broke Oranje hearts with a late strike when penalties seemed inevitable.

The ultimate prize in football went to Spain not the Netherlands. In so doing Spain became the eighth winners of the World Cup trophy and the first team to win the tournament having lost their opening game in the finals.

Quite how the Dutch managed to keep their full quota of 11 men until half time is a question best asked of English referee Howard Webb. Clearly, he did not want to leave his imprint on the game through dishing out any hasty red cards, yellow was his colour of preference.

Nigel de Jong had no compunction about leaving his imprint on Xavi Alonso’s chest. The Netherlands midfielder’s first-half challenge owed more to total kickboxing than total football.

The build-up to the final focused on Spain and the Netherlands being the two in-form nations. Spain had won 50 out of their previous 54 games, while the Dutch had gone 25 matches unbeaten. A feast of football awaited, with two nations renowned for the quality of their play. Even Nelson Mandela made it to the opening ceremony.

Unfortunately, the first half failed to live up to great expectations. Spain dominated possession as the Dutch racked up their foul count.

Somehow it took 110 minutes for a Dutchman to see red. John Heitinga receiving a second yellow for pulling Iniesta back as he once more closed in on Stekelenburg. Xavi wasted the ensuing free kick.

Finally, the Dutch dyke was breached by Iniesta, despite Dutch complaints for a foul in the build-up to the goal. Justice was seen to be done as most of the Dutch rough stuff was dished out on the Barcelona midfielder.

Jubilation across Spain, misery across the Netherlands. The winner on the night was Andres Iniesta, who somehow managed to ride some crude Dutch challenges to prove that the pass is mightier than the foul.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen to ‘step down’ if he loses Sam Rainsy bet over Kem Sokha

    Hun Sen has promised to step down as prime minister while opposition figure Sam Rainsy pledges to turn himself in as forfeits if the long-term political rivals lose a “bet” over the future of former opposition leader Kem Sokha, who is on bail awaiting trial

  • UAE prince seeks to invest in Cambodia

    The UAE has expressed interest in Cambodian oil and gas exploration. Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said this was the result of his discussions with Sheikh Ahmed bin Dalmook bin Juma al-Maktoum, a member of the royal family who visited him on Wednesday.

  • Smith calls for ‘release’ of Sokha as visit ends

    At a press conference to conclude her 11-day visit to Cambodia, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith on Thursday called for treason charges against former opposition leader Kem Sokha to be dropped and for him to be released from “restricted detention”.

  • PM denies ‘nepotism’ claims

    Prime minister Hun Sen denied on Thursday that nepotism was involved in the recent promotions of the children of senior government officials. He said they had been “trained” and were entirely capable of carrying out their duties while being open to “punishment” like anyone else.