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Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Saturday, 31 May 2008 12:42 UK

Wales must have 'Dutch courage'

Venue: Feyenoord Stadium Date: Sunday, 1 June Kick-off: 1400 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and Online. Highlights on Match of the Day Wales at 2000 BST on BBC Two Wales

John Toshack and Dean Saunders
Wales have lost two in 10 since Saunders became Toshack's No 2

Dean Saunders has told his Wales youngsters to be brave against the dangerous Dutch in Rotterdam on Sunday.

The last time Saunders was in the Netherlands his Wales team were humbled 7-1 in a 1998 World Cup qualifier.

Wales' heaviest competitive defeat was a night to forget but Saunders now returns to the scene of his biggest humiliation as Welsh assistant coach.

"We got a lesson," said Saunders. "But our lads must be fearless against a top team like Holland and learn from it."

Dennis Bergkamp's hat-trick inspired a Dutch demolition of Wales in Eindhoven in November 1996 and it could have been worse without the great Neville Southall's goalkeeping heroics.

Saunders, in fact, scored a stunner on that otherwise forgettable night.

Dennis Bergkamp celebrates his hat-trick against Wales in 1996
Lost 1-0 in Amsterdam
(14 Sept 1988)
Lost 2-1 in Wrexham
(11 Oct 1989)
Lost 4-0 in Utrecht
(30 May 1992)
Lost 3-1 in Cardiff
(5 October 1996)
Lost 7-1 in Eindhoven
(9 Nov 1996)

"I try to forget our 7-1 defeat to Holland," he said. "But I do recall however hard we resisted, they kept coming at us.

"They were a fantastic team full of household names and taught us a lesson that day."

But the former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker has no fear about John Toshack's young team facing one of world football's great teams on their home turf on the eve of the Dutch departure for Euro 2008.

"This Wales team is young but it is learning fast on the most ruthless stage," said Toshack's right-hand-man Saunders.

"Obviously young players will make mistakes, especially when they're up against world-class opposition."

The Welsh defence to play the Netherlands at the famous De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam will be hugely inexperienced.

Centre-backs Danny Gabbidon and James Collins - the partnership Toshack hails as his "nerve centre" - are on an injury list that also includes teenage sensation Gareth Bale.

Ashley Williams, Craig Morgan and Chris Gunter have 14 caps between them and Sam Ricketts will be Wales' most experienced defender as the Hull full-back will make his 28th international appearance.

The Dutch maybe without Arsenal ace Robin van Persie but their frontline boasts some of the world football's most feared attackers such as Ruud van Nistelrooy and Arjen Robben.

Wales have won three successive internationals and have kept four consecutive friendlies but Saunders admits: "Our defence is in for a real long and tough afternoon.

"But we've a young backline and defenders don't enter their prime until their late twenties and defenders only enter their prime by learning how to mark every type of striker and playing in every kind of environment.

"And marking players like Ruud van Nistelrooy in a stadium renowned for its intense atmosphere will be a huge learning curve.

"They are going to mistakes and be punished but it's how they learn from it, that's the key."

The Netherlands' Euro 2008 squad: Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax Amsterdam), Henk Timmer (Feyenoord), Wilfred Bouma (Aston Villa), Tim de Cler (Feyenoord), John Heitinga (Ajax Amsterdam), Joris Mathijsen (Hamburg SV), Mario Melchiot (Wigan Athletic), Andre Ooijer (Blackburn Rovers), Ibrahim Afellay (PSV Eindhoven), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), Orlando Engelaar (Twente Enschede), Nigel de Jong (Hamburg SV), Wesley Sneijder (Real Madrid), Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg SV), Demy de Zeeuw (AZ Alkmaar), Ryan Babel (Liverpool), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Ajax Amsterdam), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Real Madrid), Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (Celtic).

Wales squad: Wayne Hennessey (Wolves), Boaz Myhill (Hull City), Lewis Price (Derby County), Darcy Blake (Cardiff City), Neal Eardley (Oldham Athletic), Steve Evans (Wrexham), Chris Gunter (Tottenham Hotspur), Joe Jacobson (Bristol Rovers), Craig Morgan (Peterborough United), Lewin Nyatanga (Derby County), Sam Ricketts (Hull City), Ashley Williams (Swansea City), Jack Collison (West Ham), Andrew Crofts (Gillingham), Arron Davies (Nottingham Forest), David Edwards (Wolves), Mark Jones (Wrexham), Jason Koumas (Wigan Athletic), Joe Ledley, Aaron Ramsey (both Cardiff City), Carl Robinson (Toronto), Craig Bellamy (West Ham), Craig Davies (Oldham Athletic), Freddy Eastwood (Wolves), Ched Evans (Manchester City), Daniel Nardiello (QPR), Sam Vokes (Wolves).

see also
Wales eye 'Alamo' test - Toshack
30 May 08 |  Internationals
Van Persie doubt for Wales match
29 May 08 |  Internationals
Bellamy buzzing after milestone
29 May 08 |  Internationals
Wales suffer Fletcher injury blow
29 May 08 |  Internationals
Evans revelling in 'flukey' goal
28 May 08 |  Internationals
Iceland 0-1 Wales
28 May 08 |  Internationals
Netherlands team guide
15 May 08 |  Netherlands
Newcastle go through
13 Nov 02 |  Champions League

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