While eight teams switch their UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 campaigns to Antwerp's Sportpaleis for the knockout phase this week, four others have departed after finishing third in their groups. Hosts Belgium, the Netherlands, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic reflect on their finals campaigns.
Alain Dopchie, Belgium coach
In the first game we couldn't score, and in the end we were a bit lucky when we did. But if you look at the rankings, we are 28th in the world, Romania [who beat Belgium 6-1] are 11th and Ukraine [whom they held 0-0] are ninth. If we can do it against Ukraine ... The side we have to aspire to being like in Europe is Slovenia. They are a country with a population of about three million.
Marcel Loosveld, Netherlands coach
We have a lot of young players and I think we have a lot of expertise on the bench – we have a lot of people who understand this game. I hope they can see that, for the moment, the Netherlands are trying to improve and play futsal the way it is played in top nations. We are not at that level yet, but we have some time to work on it – that is what we will do. It's a great experience for the players. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of the other teams but we still lack a great national league and that will ultimately determine whether we are successful.
Alesio, Azerbaijan coach
We made some mistakes in our first match [beating Slovenia 7-6]. Afterwards, we analysed our game, saw what we did wrong but didn't improve. In the second match [a 7-0 loss to Italy], we did not make any fewer mistakes. I just don't know how it happened. You get punished for every mistake in these tournaments, even for the smallest ones. Italy made a lot of mistakes in their first match and they lost. They forced us to lose. You should be 100%, one million per cent, focused in the EURO finals. If you are just 50% focused, you will lose badly as we did against Italy. There is very high standard of competition in every UEFA European Futsal Championship – not just this tournament. But still, some teams have come a long way – Slovenia, for example.
David Frič, Czech Republic defender
On Friday against Croatia we lost the lead in the last two minutes – for us, it was like a defeat. In the Czech Republic there will be two groups of people. One group will criticise us for losing 8-1 to Spain and the other will know why we played the way we did. I hope there are more people in the second group! We want to stay in tournaments for longer, but this time we had a really hard group. We knew our only chance was to beat Croatia – and we didn't do that.
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