CAPE TOWN, South Africa — A few more Dutchmen have landed on their feet in Cape Town.
It was 358 years ago that the city's founder, Jan van Riebeeck, sailed into Table Bay from Holland, set foot on shore and is believed to have said, "This would be a pretty good place to hold a World Cup semifinal one day."
On Tuesday, Bert van Marwijk, wholeheartedly agreed.
The coach of the Netherlands was in fine spirits following the Dutch team's 3-2 victory over Uruguay that earned it a place in Sunday's final against the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between Germany and Spain.
He was also admittedly relieved. His team had built a 3-1 lead and was coasting along nicely when Uruguay scored a late goal that made things a little tense.
"You just keep your fingers crossed and hope everything goes well," van Marwijk said.
The Dutch did hang on and are in their first World Cup final since 1978, when they lost to Argentina 3-1 in Buenos Aires.
They also reached the final in 1974, only to lose 2-1 to Germany in Munich. That was Johan Cruyff's "clockwork orange" team, and while he was not drawing comparisons between 1974 and 2010, van Marwijk did make note of the fact.
"It was a unique generation," he said. "In my opinion, Johan Cruyff is the best football player that ever existed."
And if the Dutch have to play Germany?
"I don't think in terms of revenge," the coach said.
The team that van Marwijk has assembled is not like the free-spirited Dutch sides of the 1970s, but it is capable of attractive soccer and is winning. Tuesday, against game but outclassed Uruguay, it ran its unbeaten stretch to 25 games.
The key for the Dutch is playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who is poised to complete a momentous quadruple. Already this season, with Inter Milan, he has won the European Champions League, the Italian Serie A and the Italian Cup.
A World Cup would complete the sweep.
"This is unforgettable," he said. "It was a wonderful performance."
The Dutch did turn on the style, but not for the full 90 minutes. The game was almost drab for the first 15 minutes or so and had the Green Point Stadium crowd of 62,479 shuffling with impatience. Then came a wonder strike.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst, the Dutch captain who afterward said he would retire after Sunday's final, found himself with the ball at his feet and acres of space around him.
Van Bronckhorst didn't hesitate. Not for him the aimless passing and running that had gone before. He let fly with a shot from perhaps 25 or more yards — straight as an arrow, all the way from his left boot to the top corner of Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera's net.
The Dutch had the lead and were on their way.