The Norman Transcript

National Sports

July 12, 2014

Dutch can still go undefeated

BRASILIA, Brazil — Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal is trying to motivate his players for the third-place match against Brazil by giving them the mission of becoming the only Dutch squad to finish a World Cup unbeaten in regular play.

After being eliminated by Argentina on penalties, the Netherlands has the chance of ending the tournament without a loss in seven matches. The Dutch won its first four games, then drew Costa Rica 0-0 in the quarters and Argentina 0-0 in the semis.

Van Gaal had been saying the third-place game was pointless and that he would rather not play it, but on Friday he changed the tone a bit, saying that going out without a loss would be a good reason to stay motivated.

“We are realizing that there is something else we need to defend and we have to go for it,” Van Gaal said through a translator. “Never a Dutch team returned home unbeaten, and that has to be the next target.”

It is the second time the Netherlands is playing in the third-match game at a World Cup. It fell to Croatia 2-1 in 1998 after being beaten by Brazil in the semifinals.

“Losing hurts a lot, the pain doesn’t go away so fast, but it’s part of sports,” striker Dirk Kuyt said. “There’s always the next match. We want to win here and return unbeaten. It will be easier to get on the plane with a good feeling. It would be wonderful to close this World Cup by winning. We are still not satisfied, but third place gives you a much better feeling than fourth place.”

Van Gaal recalled that even the great teams of 1974 and 1978 were not able to finish the World Cup without losses. The 1978 squad had two losses in the tournament in Argentina.

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