We'll have Japanese for lunch, says Kuyt

Netherlands v Japan: Today, Durban, 12.30pm, ITV1
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The Independent Football

The Dutch and Japanese teams had one of those eye-opening experiences which should quell most nerves before today's match in Durban.

Heavy overnight rain meant neither team was able to train at the Moses Mabhida Stadium so they were taken to the Princess Magogo Stadium in Kwamashu Township. Kwamashu is normally in the news for being South Africa's murder capital, quite a distinction, with 300 killings recorded in a 12-month period. That was a year ago, and government investment, including the stadium, is slowly improving matters in the 500,000-head township, but the training sessions still represented a dramatic shift from the routine normally observed by footballers.

Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk said he thought it was good for his players to see the township. His main focus, though, was assessing Arjen Robben's work-out. The likelihood is Robben will not be risked. The Dutch, like the Japanese, won their opening match and have no need to gamble. "It's quite something that he trained with us today," said Van Marwijk, "but we have to wait and see how he responds. "

The two teams met as recently as September. The Netherlands won 3-0 but found Japan hard to master for the first hour. "That was a big turning point for us," said Japan coach Takeshi Okada. "We hardly had opportunities before to play against world-class teams. That match led us to understand what the positives and negatives were for our team. We now have a Japanese style of playing and have been focusing on our strategy to beat the world-class teams."

"We cannot compare that game to this one," said Van Marwijk. "This is going to be a tougher. I expect a very aggressive Japan; they have progressed a lot."

There may be a slight edge on the bench. Van Marwijk failed to recognise his counterpart when they met at the draw, mistaking him for a federation executive. For his part Okada said: "I am not close to Van Marwijk. I cannot pronounce properly the Dutch coach's surname but by that I don't mean any disrespect."

In addition Dirk Kuyt's attempt at humour may not be well received. Asked if he ate sushi the Liverpool striker said: "Tomorrow we are going to win. A lot of players like Japanese food, so perhaps we can have Japan for lunch."

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