An early red card may have hindered Georgia as they attempted to prevent the Netherlands from reaching the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final, but they battled bravely against the odds for 64 minutes. Albert Stuivenberg's men finally broke their opponents' resistance, however, scoring twice in the final moments to bring an end to Georgia's European adventure. Forward Davit Jikia spoke to UEFA.com after the game.
"The game was quite good, we tried hard and defended with everything we had," said Jikia. "But after our captain was sent off, the Netherlands were better than us and deserved to score."
Vasil Maisuradze's team have surpassed all expectations in this year's tournament, qualifying from an elite round group containing England and Spain, before reaching the semi-finals by way of a tough Group A that featured France and Germany.
"We are very satisfied with the tournament," said the skilful forward, nicknamed Pele by his team-mates. "I am proud of everyone here and want thank them for everything – they fought hard and played well. It was the first ever semi-final for Georgia, so even though we lost, the tournament was a success. Hopefully we can improve in the future."
Such was the level of success for the Georgian youngsters in Slovenia, the country's president flew over to lend his support against the Jong Oranje on Sunday. The news was kept a secret from the players, but it did not take them long to find out, and if they weren't fully aware of the size of their feat, that certainly helped them realise it.
Jikia added: "We didn't know he was here before the match, but during the game we realised it. When we saw him, it boosted our motivation and we worked even harder. It made us proud to see him and it made us realise, even if it hurts now, that we have done well here and it has been a big achievement."
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