Italy's Daniele Zoratto and Russia's Dmitri Khomukha both shifted their sights to Tuesday's last-four encounters, after their sides played out a 1-1 draw which secured semi-final passage for both. The Russian coach is eyeing the medals, and called on all his team and staff to make a final push for silverware.
While the two coaches in Nitra ended satisfied, there was a downbeat air surrounding Zlate Moravce. Croatia's Ivan Gudelj was left considering what might have been, had his side been able to take some of the numerous chances they created in the first two games, but he at least can look forward to the FIFA U-17 World Cup, unlike Ukraine's Olexandr Holovko, who praised the standard of opponents at the tournament.
ITALY 1-1 RUSSIA
Daniele Zoratto, Italy coach
It was a difficult game, Russia are a great side. We feared them as much as we had feared Croatia because they are a very useful side with strong players and great teamwork. Certainly an achievement like this is very satisfying for Italy because this is only the second time since the Under-17s have existed that we have reached a semi-final and qualified for the World Cup.
Italy played well. Maybe we hit the ball long a bit too much when we should have kept the ball on the ground more, but it was a good Italy in terms of possession and you could see that in the second half. We got the goal immediately and we had one or two great chances. It is a healthy Italy with many players who have individual qualities which they bring to the overall team. I am satisfied with this first phase and, I repeat, to reach the semi-finals is a great satisfaction.
Dmitri Khomukha, Russia coach
As with all the other games in the group, this one was very hard from a physical point of view. We all are extremely happy to be in the company of the four teams left who will be competing for the medals. I really hope that my lads, just like the whole coaching staff, are still hungry for victories. We will fight hard to reach the final. The centre-forward [Aleksei Gasilin] scored a goal and he achieved his task. Of course, we are all sad that Maksim Mayrovich has got a concussion and cannot play. On the other hand, our main striker, Ramil Sheydaev has served three-match suspension, and I think he will help us from now on.
UKRAINE 1-2 CROATIA
Olexandr Holovko, Ukraine coach
I can say that I am happy only with first halves of all three matches that we played here. Participation in such a tournament is a huge plus for Ukrainian football. No one will teach our boys to play better than such classy opponents. I am happy. Not with results, but with our participation in the event.
Croatia are a decent team. Each of their players has good skills and wants to be with the ball. This is one of the weakest spots of Ukrainian football. We work hard and try to compensate for the lack of technique with will and physicality. But the result of that is not always good for us.
Ivan Gudelj, Croatia coach
We deserved to win this game against Ukraine, we had plently of chances but it was the same in all our matches here, so I am sad we did not go through because we are the best team in the group. In these three matches we had over 20 chances, unfortunately we did not have a calm finish when needed, but I think we deserved to go through.
We did everything that was needed but I also told them that sometimes we need to have some luck. Italy scored their goal in the last seconds of the match against Ukraine. But, simply, that is life, that is football, we need to accept that. What is most important now is that we will have a new chance at the World Cup in October and we will start to prepare for that now. And we have a huge motivation for that.
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