Future’s orange says, flying Dutchman Sneijder

MATCH-winner Wesley Sneijder believes Holland could not be in a better position as they head into their final Group E match with qualification for the knock-out stages already in the bag.

The Dutch top their pool having taken maximum points in their opening two World Cup games.

Sneijder’s second-half goal earned a 1-0 win over Japan on Saturday while Cameroon’s 2-1 defeat to Denmark in the other group game guaranteed that the Oranje progressed to the last 16 with a game in hand.

“I think it’s an excellent result,” said Sneijder, who has earned man-of-the-match honours in consecutive games.

“We have done a great job. It doesn’t matter how you play as long as you get the win.

“We have six points and we still have one match to go and we want to finish first of our group.”

The Inter Milan playmaker was all the more satisfied considering Holland have dominated their opening two games.

“We controlled the match against Japan,” he said. “Japan are fast and it’s difficult to play football against them.

“It was a difficult match from the very beginning. We didn’t create many opportunities in the opening half.

“What you need is a bit of luck and we ended up with that, but we should have ended up scoring two or three more goals. The important thing is that we are not giving away goals.”

Holland coach Bert van Marwijk is unlikely to make drastic changes to his line-up for Thursday’s match against already-eliminated Cameroon.

Marwijk fielded the same line-up against Japan that beat Denmark 2-0 in their group opener, with Van der Vaart, Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt playing in support of forward Robin Van Persie and it allowed them to dominate the early exchanges and create chances.

“I will look at the fitness of my players and at the yellow cards we have,” said Marwijk. “But I don’t plan to make major alterations.”

Japan coach Takeshi Okada hopes his side can turn the page as they look to prepare for their final group game against Denmark on Thursday.

Both sides go into the encounter level on three points, with one last 16 spot up for grabs.

“We have no time to look back as we have to focus on our next match,” said Okada. Right now my players are shocked but I have no intention of making any major modifications.

“We have to recover physically and mentally so my team will be able to play in the best way against Denmark. We will select the best team to face the Danes.”

Okada admits his team have to make improvements if they are to progress.

“We have to be aggressive in attack,” he said. “We don’t have a powerful centre forward so we have to be quick on set plays and connect well wit the ball.

“We don’t count on just one player but on the team. Quick connections allow us to score goals.”

HOLLAND: Stekelenburg, Van Der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen,Van Bronckhorst, Kuyt, Van Bommel, De Jong,Van der Vaart (Elia 72), Sneijder (Afellay 82),van Persie (Huntelaar 87).

JAPAN: Kawashima, Nagatomo, Nakazawa, Tanaka, Komano,Hasebe (Okazaki 77), Matsui (Shunsuke Nakamura 64), Abe, Endo,Okubo (Tamada 77), Honda.

Referee: Hector Baldassi (Argentina).

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