World Cup 2010 Comment: If the Netherlands win, then South Africa has won

A historical look at why the Dutch should be the host's favourites tonight...
It was back on 6 April 1652 when the Dutch merchant Jan van Riebeeck landed in Cape Town accompanied by 82 men and eight women, his own wife amongst them. Commissioned by the Dutch-East India Trading company, he established a strong base to provide the company's ships with fresh groceries, mainly meat and vegetables on the long journey from Europe to Asia.

On 7 June 2010 the Netherlands head coach Bert van Marwijk landed at the OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa with his 23 troops, this time not to colonise the country but to conquer the football world.

Just when the British had decided against the establishment of a colony at the Cape of Good Hope, it was the Dutch who realised the strategic and economic importance of the Cape.

Ironically snubbed by England, who chose to stay in Rustenburg, the Netherlands realised the footballing, technical, philosophical and historical importance of Johannesburg. This time with different ambitions, they established their base camp in the Hilton Hotel in Sandton.

Thumbs up | Dutch fans are ready for the final

Van Riebeeck's men erected the "Fort de Goede Hoop" for their own protection, and they laid out a large garden and started to grow fruit and vegetables. However, they had to rely on the natives for meat provisions through trade. During the first winter, 20 of Riebeeck's men died but still the settlement flourished. This winter none of Van Marwijk’s men died either of the cold weather or succumbed to pressure, they have progressed to the final unbeaten.

The historical events in 19th century South Africa are marked by the Great Trek. Starting in 1835, more than 10,000 Boers, the Voortrekkers, left the Cape Colony with their families and went north and north-east. The reasons for this mass exodus were their economic problems, the threatening danger of conflict with the natives.

After destroying Denmark at Soccer City the Dutch then went to the coastal cities of Durban and Cape Town, where they rampaged over Japan as well as Cameroon. Their Football Great Trek has been brilliant and now they are set for the World Cup final against Spain at Soccer City.

The original Great Trek was organised in resistance to the politics of the Cape government while this one was arranged to challenge football emperors Brazil, whom they eventually brought down in a dramatic game.

The Dutch are today the people who are known as Afrikaners in the 2010 World Cup host country. Since Ghana were bundled out of the tournament by Uruguay many locals have thrown their weight behind the Dutchmen.

So don’t be surprised when you see lads in Bafana Bafana jerseys cheering Arjen Robben and company, there is that historical connection to keep in mind.

No trip to South Africa is complete without a visit to its most beautiful and sunniest city. Durban offers much more than sandy beaches, safaris, casinos and the World Cup, for information on what to do and see, please click here.

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