CAPE TOWN // Arjen Robben may make his belated first appearance today as Samuel Eto'o makes his last when the Holland play Cameroon. With the Dutch already through to the second round and Cameroon eliminated, sub-plots will take centre stage in Cape Town. And the biggest one is whether Oranje will finally start playing with the free-flowing flair for which they have been famous since the 1970s.
Argentina, Brazil and Portugal have already set the World Cup alight, at various points, with brilliant play. Holland, despite two wins from two games, are still lagging behind. That is where Robben, the best player in Germany's Bundesliga and the driving force behind Bayern Munich's run to the Champions League final, comes in. In recent training, the winger appears to have fully recovered from the left hamstring injury he sustained in a warm-up match against Hungary on June 5. But a decision to play him is expected just before the game at Green Point Stadium.
"It is possible that I get my first minutes against Cameroon," Robben said. "Everything is possible. We are taking it day by day." Together with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba, Robben was among a select few players many thought would define the World Cup. At one stage, Eto'o was on that list too, but two Cameroon losses have made sure one of the most prominent faces on World Cup posters will be heading home tomorrow. He won the Champions League and the Italian league title and cup with Inter Milan, but the moment he lived for all season - the World Cup in Africa - has been a disappointment. Robben also won the German league and cup double with Bayern, but Eto'o beat him in the Champions League final.
Bert van Marwijk, the Dutch coach, has shown little concern with winning ugly, as the team did in a 2-0 victory over Denmark and 1-0 over Japan. Those wins made Holland the first team to qualify for the World Cup second round. "We don't play that pretty yet. Fans and pundits say we should do better," Joris Mathijsen, the defender, said. * AP