Mohamed Madmar was finally unleashed by the Netherlands at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship on Tuesday and the strong midfielder is eager to play a part again in the semi-finals against Switzerland on Friday morning.
With coach Albert Stuivenberg picking the same starting lineup for the first two Group B games against England and Turkey, Madmar only managed a four-minute substitute appearance prior to the meeting with hosts Germany. Stuivenberg then made his first selection change of the finals, bringing in Madmar, and although they lost 2-0, the Netherlands put on their best display in Germany with the AZ Alkmaar player adding a physical dimension to their play that will be more than useful against a big Switzerland team.
Work to do
Madmar is certainly hoping to play a part. "It is nice to be in the semis but it's not over yet, we have to work hard for the game against Switzerland," he told uefa.com. "[The Germany game] was our best match of the tournament, we created a lot of chances, but we should have scored. I also had a big chance but I am satisfied. We can do even better but the midfield was solid."
More than 6,000 fans were in Jena to watch Tuesday's game, and it was some experience for Madmar. "Of course in Holland in our competition there aren't so many people," he said. "Before kick-off I looked around at all the people but when the game started I focused on the match and forgot the crowd. We can't think about the final yet, but if we get there I've never played in front of 23,000 people, it would be a huge experience."
On the move
Progress to the semi-finals has meant a move for the Netherlands from their group-stage Jena base to Leipzig, and Madmar does not mind the upheaval. "After a week it could be a good thing to have something new," Madmar said, "and moving with the team is a part of being a professional footballer, so it is no problem." In any case, the spirit in the squad is excellent. "They are good people," Madmar added. "We have a lot of fun, especially over the table tennis table, I'm one of the best. But when we have to be serious we are serious."
In that 18-man squad, there is only one representative from this season's Dutch champions – Madmar, and their achievements has given him an extra incentive to break into the first-team picture. "Last year AZ weren't a big club but now we are champions," said Madmar. "It is special for us to be champions, we'll be in the Champions League next year, and I'll be in the stadium when we play the biggest clubs. If I train hard and do my best, we'll see what the future holds."
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