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Dutch make 'bald' statement

Visakhapatnam, India, August 12, 2005 - The Brazilian team had a few close shaves on their way to winning Pool B with a 5-0 record. But not as close as the Dutch.

Most of the players and the technical staff, including head coach Gido Vermeulen, have shaved their heads to make a bold statement. Or maybe a bald statement.

"I didn't know anything about it," Vermeulen said, after Friday's training session. "The players just came out of their rooms looking like that. I think they want to make a statement together."

So why did the head coach join them? "Well, the opening ceremony was so beautiful, and I said that if I can
come back to this gym for the semi-finals I will shave my head.

"My wife's a bit upset about it back home!"

The opening ceremony was held at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium on the eve of the Men's U21 World Championship, but the Dutch then moved to the second stadium, Swarna Bharathi, for their Pool B campaign.

They finished second in the six-team group, behind Brazil, to qualify for the semi-finals, and will meet European rival Russia on Saturday afternoon at the main venue.

Any Russian scouts would have been confused at the sight of the Dutch team on Friday afternoon, as they all looked alike: tall, skinny and bald.

Only the number on the shorts gave observers the opportunity to distinguish them.