Van Persie trying to find groove
Netherlands striker Robin van Persie is angry at himself for missing chances at the World Cup but is convinced he will start finding the net soon.
The Arsenal striker was a contender to be one of the tournament's leading scorers but has only managed one goal in four matches in South Africa.
"I am not scoring and that eats away at me — at every striker, I think," van Persie said after he ended scoreless in the Netherlands' 2-1 defeat of Slovakia. "I've had a few small chances. I just want to score."
Van Persie was clearly annoyed at being substituted in the 80th minute of Monday's victory, which set up a potentially classic quarter-final with Brazil on Friday in Port Elizabeth, believing chances were about to come his way.
"I wanted to finish the game. I thought they would take risks in the last 10 minutes and I wanted to exploit that," van Persie said. "I could see spaces opening up and I wanted to use them, so I was a bit shocked when I had to go off."
He appeared to remonstrate with coach Bert van Marwijk on the sideline before sitting on the bench.
Van Marwijk played down any dispute with his first-choice striker, who has scored 19 goals in 48 internationals.
"I shook his hand and understood that he was disappointed, that's not a bad thing," Van Marwijk said. "Everyone wants to play the whole game."
Van Persie only returned to international soccer last month after a six-month layoff because of a right ankle injury he suffered against Italy in November. But his scoring touch appeared to have survived the break as he collected four goals in three warmups before the World Cup to raise hopes of a prolific tournament.
Instead he has misfired in South Africa, despite heading an attack that also includes Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and Dirk Kuyt.
"I'm doing my absolute best, I can't do more than that," van Persie said. "I desperately want to score and give assists but it didn't work out for me today."
Robben defended van Persie and his anger at the substitution.
"It's difficult for Robin to get free," Robben said. "You are tightly marked at a World Cup, we shouldn't make a big deal out of it."
Van Persie said he has learned playing for Arsenal that more chances will come his way — and that he will put one of them away.
"One thing I learned in England is that you can miss chances or have a bad first touch, but as a striker there will always be another chance," van Persie said. "I played against Everton once when I missed three chances, but in the end I scored the 2-1."