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We´ve won nothing yet, insists Dutch skipper

SoccerNews in Eredivisie 20 Jun 2008

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Netherlands captain Rafael van der Vaart says the Oranje may have earned plenty of praise ahead of Saturday's Euro 2008 quarter-final against Russia, but they have won nothing yet.

The Dutch beat both world champions Italy and 2006 World Cup finalists France in Group C and have been rarely tested on their way to the tournament's last eight.

More than 100,000 Dutch fans are expected to be in Basel for Saturday's quarter-final here at the St Jakob Park stadium, but despite earning the reputation as one of the tournament's top sides, van der Vaart says it means nothing.

“The tournament starts for us in earnest against Russia, if we lose we go home, simple as that,” said the 25-year-old Hamburg midfielder.

“People have said Holland play nice football, but we have won nothing yet.

“It will be a hard game, but we are full of self confidence.”

Russian coach Guus Hiddink, who was the boss of the Netherlands team between 1994-1998, says the Dutch team “scare the hell out of him” with striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and midfielder Wesley Sneijder in goal-scoring form.

But van Basten said his side's 3-0 hammering of Italy and 4-1 trouncing of France would mean nothing if they lose to Hiddink's Russia side.

“Losing would be very bitter, nothing to do with Hiddink or Russia, it's all the work to reach the quarter-final and you lose,” said van Basten.

The 43-year-old former AC Milan striker scored a stunning goal in his country's 2-0 win when they beat the Soviet Union to capture their last European Championship title in 1988.

“I am happy I scored a good goal, but that was a long time ago and it won't help me against Russia,” he said.

And Dutch defender Khalid Boulahrouz has declared himself available for selection for the Russia clash as he battled to shrug off the tragic loss in midweek of Anissa, his prematurely born baby daughter.

The Dutch team will wear black armbands on Saturday as a mark of respect for the player and his family, while the Dutch supporters will also join in with their own effort, as they will sing in the first few minutes of the match “You'll never walk alone” (the famous hymn sung by Liverpool supporters).

The Dutch camp has rallied round to offer moral support to the Sevilla defender, 26, who cut short training suddenly on Wednesday to rush to a Lausanne hospital where Sadia, his five months pregnant wife, had been admitted over problems to do with her pregnancy.

“Khalid reacted like an adult. He wanted the squad to focus on the quarter-final with Russia,” said coach Marco van Basten.

“He said to me 'coach, you can count on me 100 percent. I am focused on Saturday's match'.

“I am very happy because he is an important player for us.”

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