World Soccer: What do you think of your first-round group?
Bert Van Marwick: There is a lot of respect between all of us because I think we can all agree that it is the toughest group. That does, however, have its advantages because it means my players and I know we have to be fully focused.
Who are your favourites to win the tournament?
I am not concerned about who may or may not be the favourites to win the last game in the finals. All my concentration is on our first game.
Other people will consider Holland one of the favourites. Can your players cope with that weight of expectation?
You need to be able to handle pressure because it’s part of sport at the highest level. But you also need to be realistic especially at the European Championship because just about all the teams are top level. I can say Germany, Spain, England, Italy, Portugal, France. Those are top countries and you don’t just go out and beat them. You have to ensure that everything is absolutely right to give yourself a chance.
But you were runners-up at the last World Cup, so aren’t great expectations inevitable?
We’ve brought these kind of expectations on ourselves with our results, but our previous results have to be seen for only what they were
at the time. It’s no guarantee we are going to be able to become champions.
But aren’t you better and stronger for two more years together?
It’s true that as you grow older so you progress in whatever you do. You can’t change your character but you become more mature and work things out better.
Like varying your game plan…
My opinion about football has not changed. A good team plays within a certain structure. You hear coaches say their team can play four or five different systems but I don’t think that’s realistic. What you do is vary the details. That way we can make life difficult for opponents.
Interview by Keir Radnedge