Orange fans confidently head to Portugal
30 June 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam was coloured Orange on Wednesday morning as a few thousand Dutch fans departed for last-minute flights to Portugal, where the Netherlands takes on the host nation tonight in the Euro 2004 semi-finals.
30 June 2004
AMSTERDAM — Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam was coloured Orange on Wednesday morning as a few thousand Dutch fans departed for last-minute flights to Portugal, where the Netherlands takes on the host nation tonight in the Euro 2004 semi-finals.
Before 5am on Wednesday, four flights departed for the Portuguese capital Lisbon and the check-in desks of Dutch airline Transavia were surrounded by Dutch soccer fans two hours before check-in time, news agency ANP reported
But formalities proceeded smoothly as the still sober football fans realised they had a full day in front of them before the kick-off at 8.45pm Dutch time. Many of them were predicting a convincing win for the Dutch Lion.
The Dutch supporters will be in the minority for the first time though on Wednesday night. This is in contrast to the first four matches, where the Dutch have felt at home in stadiums dominated by bright orange.
This time just 10,000 Dutch fans are expected to watch the semi-final at the Lisbon stadium, while Portuguese fans are expected to cram into every available space at the José Alvalade stadium, which has 52,000 seats.
The Netherlands reached the semi-final after defeating Sweden on Saturday 5-4 on penalties, having scraped through the preliminary rounds courtesy of the Czech Republic which defeated Germany 2-1 in the last Group D match.
The Netherlands fulfilled its end of the bargain by defeating Latvia 3-0 to advance to the finals.
Despite the turnaround after a slow start to Euro 2004, coach Dick Advocaat has hinted he might quit after the championship due to sharp criticism levelled against him by Dutch fans. He said talk of hangings had crossed the borderline of decency.
The Dutch team has grown in strength in recent matches, but the question remains whether it has enough to topple the host nation, which is favoured to qualify for this weekend's final. Portuguese coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has even warned his team will make orange juice of the Dutch players.
"The team with the most quality will play in the final," Advocaat said. "No one can hide. Both teams are going to play football. The worst team will be forced to the back. The best footballers will take the initiative."
The Euro 2004 website also quoted him saying: "It is going to be an interesting match between two good nations".
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he intends to watch the match from the Lisbon stadium, but his presence at the match depends on whether his busy schedule will allow the journey to Portugal.
Balkenende is busy preparing for the Dutch European Union Presidency, which starts on 1 July. He is expected to meet with Portuguese Prime Minister and candidate European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso.
But the Dutch leader said the meeting will be a festive occasion and will not focus on the division of EC portfolios, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
With football fever riding high in the Netherlands, millions of Dutch fans at home are expected to be glued to every minute of Wednesday's match, which will be televised live in Dutch on Nederland 2. It will also be broadcast live on BBC 1.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news