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Van der Sar, Van Nistelrooy to lead Dutch at Euro 2008
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Amazingly, all is calm at the Dutch camp.

The refusal by AC Milan's Clarence Seedorf to play for Netherlands coach Marco van Basten at the European Championship seems a distant memory.

A comfortable 3-0 win over World Cup quarterfinalist Ukraine has contained the critics.

Arsenal's Robin van Persie's sore thigh is not creating panic.

"I know my body," he said. "It is going the right way."

Van Persie, who is the only player still training on his own due to injury, said he will definitely be ready for the Oranje's opening Group C game against Italy on June 9.

Even Van Basten's whittling down of the squad from 26 to 23 has not caused the stir that was expected.

Late Tuesday, he cut defender Khalid Boulahrouz as the last player from his final squad. The Sevilla player joined the Dutch training camp on May 20 as a replacement for Seedorf.

The Dutch team has so often been known for its scandals and bickering before and during big tournaments but the squad appears to be at peace this time.

"It is the way the group is now," said Van Basten, lauding the balance and added experience the team gained since its second-round exit at the World Cup two years ago.

The last squad member arrived late Monday when Manchester United goalkeeper and Champions League winner Edwin van der Sar drove his sports car through the gates of the Hoenderloo training center in the green heart of eastern Netherlands.

"It really feels great when you get into camp," said Van der Sar, who has received more than 150 text messages over the past few days since his heroics in the penalty shootout win over Chelsea in the Champions League final. "But by the time Italy comes around it will mean nothing."

First up is preparation for Sunday's friendly against Denmark in Eindhoven, followed by Sunday's match against Wales at Rotterdam.

From then on, things get serious. The squad leaves for Lausanne, Switzerland, the following Tuesday and opens the tournament against world champion Italy the following Monday. France and Romania complete the toughest of four first-round groups.

The game against Ukraine gave away few clues about the starting lineup at Euro 2008 because of the many late arrivals like Van der Sar. Things should become clearer by late today.

Van der Sar was assured of goalkeeping duties and Van Basten has restored his faith in Ruud van Nistelrooy, who will be at the heart of the attack. After a good show against Ukraine with two assists, Rafael van der Vaart seems certain of a playmaking role, perhaps alongside Real Madrid's Wesley Sneijder.

Final Squad:

Goalkeepers: Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Henk Timmer (Feyenoord).

Defenders: Wilfred Bouma (Aston Villa), Tim de Cler (Feyenoord), John Heitinga (Ajax), Joris Mathijsen (Hamburg), Mario Melchiot (Wigan Athletic), Andre Ooijer (Blackburn Rovers).

Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (PSV Eindhoven), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), Orlando Engelaar (FC Twente), Nigel de Jong (Hamburg), Wesley Sneijder (Real Madrid), Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg), Demy de Zeeuw (AZ Alkmaar).

Forwards: Ryan Babel (Liverpool), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Ajax), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Real Madrid), Jan Vennegoor (Celtic).

(Agencies via Shanghai Daily May 28, 2008)

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