Fifa World Cup: Dutch return to bring back the magic of orange

Four years after missing the last World Cup in Russia, the Netherlands are back on a stage they have captivated over decades

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal during the press conference. Photo: Reuters
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal during the press conference. Photo: Reuters

Published: Mon 21 Nov 2022, 2:15 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Nov 2022, 2:37 PM

It’s the World Cup time again. It’s the time of Brazil’s yellow and Argentina’s blue and white, the colours of the two most loved teams made famous across the world by the Pele-inspired Brazilian stars and Diego Maradona’s magic in Mexico.

But the World Cup also brings the delicious oranges to your plate. If you are a true blue football fan, you can never keep the bright orange colour that the Dutch team wear and their dazzling football out of your head.


Now four years after missing the last World Cup in Russia, the Netherlands are back on a stage they have captivated over decades.

And yet they have remained the greatest World Cup mystery.


For a country that has produced some of the greatest teams and players in history, the Netherlands still remain empty-handed at the World Cup.

Such was the ability in the 1974 team that pioneered the concept of Total Football, that few gave Franz Beckenbauer’s West Germany a chance in the final in Munich.

But the Dutch eventually capitulated to the famous German never-say-die spirit, losing a classic final 2-1.

Four years later in Buenos Aires, the Dutch again ran into an inspired home team in the final with Mario Kempes inspiring Argentina to their first World Cup triumph.

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The 1980s' Dutch golden generation went into Italia 1990 on the back of their stunning Euro triumph in 1988.

But their World Cup campaign in 1990 was a catastrophe as the likes of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ronald Koeman bowed out of the second round.

Their footballers continued to dominate at club level, while producing jaw-dropping performances at the World Cups and Euros, albeit in phases, to entice fans all over the world.

The Oranges have a history of suffering heartbreaking defeats, but that has never stopped their supporters from dreaming big.

Louis Van Gaal, the legendary coach, is back on the big stage, to lead his national team in Qatar.

The Dutch, who will take on Senegal in their opening game on Monday, no longer have the attacking talents that they once produced with unmatched regularity.

But it’s a young team with a lot of potential and in Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, they have a talismanic leader.

Their 2020 Euro campaign, though, ended in the second round despite winning all three of their matches in the group stages.

So will they again fizzle out in a big tournament?

“With our national team, we always have expectations. No matter what, our people are always behind the team,” said Marten, a Dutch fan and an amateur winter athlete who has travelled to Qatar for the World Cup.

“For the past one month, the country is in the grip of World Cup fever. You could see the Orange flags flying in the streets of all big cities. The World Cup is a magical time to be in the Netherlands.”

It remains to be seen if the Dutch live to up their reputation of playing magical football when they begin their campaign on Monday against Senegal.

But no matter what, the Orange Army in the stands at Al Thumama Stadium will be a sight for the sore eyes.


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