presented by
Sigh of relief

Robben hopeful of rapid return

The best player was missing when the Dutch squad landed in Johannesburg on Sunday, but Arjen Robben’s World Cup dream is not over yet. An MRI scan in Rotterdam confirmed the Bayern winger had strained a hamstring in the Netherlands’ 6-1 win over Hungary on Saturday, but the injury is not as serious as initially feared and the player could be fit for the later stages in South Africa.

“I’ll do everything I can to be back with the team soon,” Robben said on Sunday evening’s Studio Voetbal TV show. “I hope I’ll be fit to play again in a week and a half.”

Van Marwijk keeps the faith

Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk reacted with relief to the diagnosis. “I’ve decided not to replace Arjen for the time being, as I want to keep open the possibility of him joining us during the tournament,” Van Marwijk announced from the team’s Johannesburg base on Sunday evening. The coach will monitor Robben’s recovery before setting a date for him to fly to South Africa.

The 26-year-old FCB man sustained the injury while attempting a back-heel to Gregory van der Wiel shortly before the end of Saturday’s game in Amsterdam. Robben, who scored twice against the Hungarians, did not take the flight to Johannesburg with the rest of the squad, but reported to Erasmus Hospital in Rotterdam for an examination and diagnosis on Sunday morning instead.

Group stage a possibility

News was scant across the course of Sunday, as the Dutch footballing community heard from the Netherlands FA (KNVB) that a decision over Robben’s World Cup destiny would not be made until Monday. However, the association revealed the more positive diagnosis late on Sunday night.

The player, frequently sidelined with muscle injuries before his switch to Bayern last August and victim of minor bruising to the hip last week, could yet recover in time for his country’s group stage campaign. The Dutch open on 14 June against Denmark, before facing Japan on 19 June and Cameroon on 24 June. Should the men in orange make the last sixteen as expected, they would not play before 28 June, still some three weeks away.