By Patrick Johnston
BRASILIA, July 11 (Reuters) - Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal has changed his tune on the importance of the third-place playoff and wants to sign off with a win to become the first Dutch coach to go unbeaten in normal and extra time at a World Cup.
"We haven't lost a match," he said ahead of Saturday's game against hosts Brazil in Brasilia after his side lost their semi-final against Argentina 4-2 in a shootout.
"I have two-and-a-half days to analyse and watch Brazil and I don't want to leave anything to chance so I have been focusing on Brazil and I hope I can prepare my players in such a way that we can play a good match, win the game and write history."
Van Gaal, 62, will leave his post with the Dutch to become manager of Manchester United after the third-place match which he had said after the semi-final "should never be played".
He had wanted to bow out as a World Cup winner, but their exit to Argentina on penalties after 120 goalless minutes in Sao Paulo on Wednesday ended that ambition.
"It was very sad, very sad, and a dream has been broken and this dream is not going to come back because it was all about being number one," the former Ajax Amsterdam, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach told reporters on Friday.
"To lose this way is the most terrible way and that's why in the press conference I said its better to lose 7-1 as you clearly lose, but we didn't lose, we lost because of penalties," he said referring to the hammering Germany handed Brazil.
The Dutch have come agonisingly close to winning the World Cup but have never lifted the trophy, having lost in the 1974, 1978 and 2010 finals.
In the 1998 semi-finals they went out to Brazil on penalties and lost the third-place match to Croatia, missing the chance to go unbeaten in normal and extra time for the first time.
Asked if he had given some thought to his next job at United after the semi-final shootout, the prickly Van Gaal replied by instead outlining his plans to achieve a record with the Dutch.
"Well you see we are working on the World Cup here, we can still write history for the Netherlands," he said.
Van Gaal said he would wait and see who was mentally and physically fit for Saturday's match before deciding his lineup.
He also continued his criticism of the fixture scheduling that had angered Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari earlier in the tournament, saying the hosts had the advantage of an extra rest day.
Netherlands forward-turned-wing back Dirk Kuyt said Van Gaal's assistant Patrick Kluivert, who played in the third-place defeat by Croatia in 1998, had stressed the importance of the fixture and added that the team would strive for victory.
"It would be wonderful to close this World Cup by winning but we still won't be satisfied," he said. "Patrick said the third place gives you a much better feeling than fourth place."
Van Gaal, who taught physical education for 11 years, said his final match in charge would have a similar feel to the last day of school where children often give presents to teachers.
"Yes it will be part of my speech that this is my last match and the players may want to give me a present in the form of victory so we can finish the tournament undefeated," he said. (Reporting by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Ken Ferris)