Van Marwijk rates graft over glamour

AFP . Sydney | Update:

Australia coach Bert van Marwijk had led the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final. AFPAustralia coach Bert van Marwijk has been described as "football's equivalent of a civil servant" -- a low-profile figure who emphasises team ethos over individual brilliance.

The Socceroos brought in the 66-year-old Dutchman on a short-term contract after predecessor Ange Postecoglou secured World Cup qualification then sensationally quit ahead of the tournament in Russia.

Van Marwijk's main attraction was his achievement at the 2010 World Cup, when he guided an unheralded Netherlands side to the final where they lost against Spain.

With the Netherlands, he stamped out the ego-driven antics that had sabotaged previous Dutch campaigns but also alienated some fans by rejecting the "total football" legacy pioneered by Johan Cruyff.

"He put winning before attractive play and he's hammered it home to his players, step by step, and incorporated it in his tactics by shoring up the defence," biographer Edwin Schoon said.

Van Marwijk's reputation as a tournament specialist was tarnished at Euro 2012, when his Dutch side failed to win a game.

He had a lengthy playing career in the Dutch top flight, earning a single cap with the national team, and coached Feyenoord and Germany's Borussia Dortmund before taking over the Netherlands.

He said there was a common thread between his success winning the 2002 UEFA Cup with Feyenoord and guiding the Dutch to the 2010 World Cup final.

"(In both cases) we didn't have the best players but we had the best team," he said.

Australia hope Van Marwijk can perform a similar feat in Russia by moulding a Socceroos team short on star power into a unit greater than the sum of its parts.

He has already adopted a pragmatic approach as the Australians seek to qualify from a tough group with France, Denmark and Peru, saying his priority is using "physically strong" players to reach the second round.

The Socceroos have lost 4-1 to Norway and drawn 0-0 with Colombia in friendlies since he took over.

 
   
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