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Seen and Heard: World Cup Special 6

Jack Loo | June 9, 2010
In Group E, the Netherlands should be the favourite, while it will be close between Denmark and Cameroon

While the Netherlands impressive qualifying campaign makes it the firm favourite in the group, one cannot help but fear that the team could implode once more for some reason or another.

History is definitely not in its favour, from quarrels and sudden withdrawals during Johan Cruyffs time in the 1970s, to Ruud Gullits decision to leave the squad on the eve of the 1994 World Cup, and divisions among the players in the late 1990s.

But Marco Van Bastens contribution as the national team coach for the 2006 World Cup cannot be taken lightly. For the first time, he brought stability into the national squad, and the players responded by embarking on an impressive run in the tournament. Current coach Bert van Marwijk has continued the steadiness, winning all eight qualifying matches. Star winger Arjen Robbens injury might dampen the overall confidence though.

Despite missing out on the previous World Cup, Denmark was efficient during its qualifying group, topping the group ahead of favourites Portugal and Sweden. While the squad consists of young promising players and experienced members, the team does not have much to offer except for organisational style of play and a sound defensive backline.

The team Denmark should fear in the group is Cameroon. The team boasts a fine World Cup pedigree, especially with Roger Milla in the 1990s. The current squad is no slouch either with Champions League winner Samuel Eto'o leading the frontline of a team full of attacking flair. The biggest plus point is that Cameroon does not have to worry about the administration and political issues that the other African teams have, leaving the players free to concentrate on the pitch.

Japans style of play is more Brazilian than the current Brazil team. While they are pleasing to watch, their recent form over their friendly matches is a huge worry. They have suffered defeats against fellow World Cup teams Serbia, Korea Republic, England and Ivory Coast. The loss to traditional rival South Korea prompted coach Takeshi Okada to offer his resignation to the Japanese football association. He was allowed to stay but he will have his work cut out for him.

Barring a huge surprise, the Netherlands should coast through the group. But the second spot will be a close call between Denmarks efficient play and Cameroons attacking flair.

 

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