We’ve seen it several times this World Cup: players from countries like Brazil, Morocco and Mexico eat the grass. And Ecuador also proved to be very difficult to make Orange.
National coach Louis van Gaal said the following in an interview with NOS on Friday: “In my opinion, opponents are trying to frustrate us in a different style. They were much more competitive than we were. Ecuador were tougher in the duels. they won each duel. Then you’ll have a tough fight.”
You almost get the feeling that they want more, said the NOS commentator. Van Gaal: “No, it has nothing to do with wanting. It has to do with the culture of the country and the militancy and how they normally play football. We knew that too. But then you have to keep the ball in possession and we did that does not.”
The players really wanted that, Van Gaal said. “It also has to do with their physique and speed, we had problems with that. But if you want to be world champion, you have to be able to afford it.” But Orange still had the biggest difficulty with it.
How is it possible that certain teams show more fight on the field? There is one pitfall in Dutch football. “A winning mentality is sometimes missing,” says Rob Wuijster, mental coach in (top) sports. Wuijster has experience across national borders and is a former national coach of the Swiss national hockey team.
This deficiency was also highlighted in a report by the KNVB published in 2016. Conclusion: they should stick to their own football culture, with more focus on a winning mentality. “Learning to perform and learning to win should be a more important part of youth training.”
‘We lack passion’
We have good footballers in the Netherlands, emphasizes Wuijster. “But when I look at other countries, we lack the will to win at all costs. We sometimes lack real fight, passion and commitment.”
According to Wuijster, Van Gaal is right in his remark about the culture of a country like Ecuador. “In the Southern European and South American countries in particular, things are brighter. You can see a big difference. The players move a lot more.”
If there is anyone who has come into contact with different football cultures, it is goalkeeper André Krul. The 35-year-old goalkeeper has played for 19 clubs, including in Colombia, Puerto Rico, Japan, Australia and Germany.
“I recognize what Van Gaal is saying,” he says. “For example, I played in Colombia and it’s a completely different world there. Much more difficult.”
Suppose you come from the youth of FC Twente. “Then you get used to everything being arranged for you. The pitches are good, you could always go to the gym. In the club in Colombia where I played, youth players had to cross mountains every time to train.”
Krul is now playing in Gibraltar and things are under control. “No one has to worry about money, there is a bit of poverty. You can see that in football. I think sometimes the players are a bit lazy, they don’t feel the need to go 100 percent for it.”
It is different in a country like Colombia. “There is much more poverty there. For many boys, football is the only way to really make a living. Or to help the family. And you can see that on the football pitch.” In the Netherlands you can always build a good life without football, says Krul.
In addition, you also see more passion among the fans. That’s because in those countries football is people’s “only distraction”. Krul: “In Holland you have so many fun things to do, so football is not the most important thing.”
But that will to win: can’t we learn it? Overall, according to Rob Wuijster, a little winning mentality is being stimulated in the Netherlands. “Here we say: kids should play for fun. Having fun is encouraged, not winning.”
And you see that everywhere. “An example: if you miss a ball in training, it has no consequence. Nothing happens. Better luck next time, they often say. But that does not create a winning mentality. If you lose, a coach must ensure that the player has to do something he doesn’t like so he’ll put in more effort next time.”
In addition, Dutch children ‘don’t need to do anything’ from their parents. “They are spoiled. It’s often in the little things. A father picking up his son from the hockey field. The boy says to his father: keep my sports bag. The father takes the bag and walks away with it. It’s a lack of responsibility.”
It is not in our culture to put pressure on children, explains Wuijster. In some other countries, the struggle is brought up with the young. “In Brazil, sometimes children literally have to fight for their existence. There is more poverty there. Soccer is a way for a child to get out of poverty. Then they go for it more.”
Nevertheless, Orange is not without chances this World Cup. According to Van Gaal, how Orange plays also depends on the opponent it faces. One style of play suits Orange better than the other. It is also a fact that the Dutch national team is unbeaten in 17 matches in a row, a great achievement.
But then you see passionate matches from Argentina, Brazil, Ghana or Mexico at the World Cup. “If you look at what happens, how they go after it. That passion. We Dutch are technically good and want to solve it nicely. There are several countries with high-level players, but what matters is, what you do with them. This Dutch national team has potential and can go far. On one condition: that they fight hard and hard for it.”