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A Dutch national squad including five Feyenoord players are preparing for their opening Brazil 2014 Group B fixture against Spain on Friday. The last Feyenoord player to play at the World Cup was Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who brought the curtain down on a sparkling career four years ago in South Africa. Van Bronckhorst, who made 106 appearances for Oranje has spoken to Feyenoord Magazine about the secret of a successful World Cup and the importance of starting well. He also has a tip for the Feyenoord internationals: ‘They should never forget to cherish everything they experience at the tournament.’
‘Far from all players get to play at a World Cup,’ says Van Bronckhorst. ‘So it’s important to enjoy it. It will be the first big tournament for the Feyenoord players who are going, an experience they will never forget. The performance comes first, of course, but they should not forget to cherish everything they experience at the tournament. I experienced several World Cups and European Championships and I remember almost everything, from the media attention to the close ties you form as a group.’
‘During the tournament it’s very important to create a good atmosphere. The secret of a good World Cup is living from match to match. Even more than in the league, the next match is the most important in a final tournament, especially after the group stage. Winning the next match is all that matters. And starting well is key. The result of the opening match often sets the tone for the rest of the tournament. A win puts you in a good position to make it through to the next round, where a loss means the team is immediately playing catch-up.’
‘That’s why the result against Spain is key for the Dutch national side. The players have to be up for it immediately. Oranje didn’t get the best draw. After the first match against Spain, if we get through the group we could meet Brazil straight away. For me they are huge favourites to win the tournament on their own soil. That said, I have confidence in the Dutch team. It can be an advantage that the expectations are lower than in previous years.’
‘The World Cup in Brazil will be the second tournament I’m no longer going to as a player. At the 2012 European Championship it took some getting used to, but it no longer feels strange to watch a big tournament as a spectator. I’ll watch this World Cup at home with family and friends. That’s how `I like it best. I get more of a feel of the match when I’m calmly watching on the sofa. That’s important to me because I’m not only watching as a fan. I also closely watch how both teams play and what intention they have. What system are they using, where are the opportunities and threats? Those are things that keep you occupied as a coach and you learn from.’