While holders England, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany are preparing for the UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-finals, and the Czech Republic and France have made the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico, hosts Serbia and Romania have come to the end of their campaigns.
Serbia were up against it from their opening 3-2 defeat by Denmark and although they then held France 1-1, another game in which they led, three early goals against England led to a 3-0 loss and Group A fourth place. Romania were only denied victory against the Czech Republic in the dying minutes but 1-0 losses to the Netherlands and Germany led to their demise from Group B.
Home coach Milovan Djorić had plenty of attacking talent to deploy such as Nikola Ninković – an impressive substitute against England – and Nikola Mandić, and attracted a total of 13,450 fans to their three games. The experienced technician took the blame for the early exit on his shoulders. "
It was really something amazing to see full crowds three times, the first game in Novi Sad and the two matches in Indjija," he said.
"I am guilty for everything, don't say anything bad about my players, they missed some chances but I create everything and if there is any guilt it is mine. I am at the end of my career and they are just starting theirs."
Being excused qualifying may have counted against Serbia, the coach added. "We played so many friendlies but being in competition and playing friendlies are totally different," Djorić said. "Apart from that we only played well in one half, the second half against England, where we showed that we have good and talented players and a generation that can go on to U19 level."
Romania were competing in their first U17 finals and were very close to their goal of World Cup qualification. In a well-organised team, individuals still shone like Juventus goalkeeper Constantin Brănescu – who has a ferocious kick – playmaker Claudiu Bumba and forward Fabian Himcinschi, scorer of a spectacular individual goal against the Czech Republic. Coach Adrian Văsâi speculated that the late equaliser in that game was a blow from which they never recovered.
"I am proud of how they played," Văsâi said. "I'm proud they have improved. Maybe it was a factor that we didn't hold on to our lead against the Czech Republic, because they equalised late on and this reduced their morale. But as I have said
I am proud of them and want to thank them all, they all love the national team, they support it and have been by our side and qualified for this final tournament. I hope in the future they will be part of national teams and will qualify for final tournaments."
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