With a crucial Group B fixture against England approaching, Serbia's Srdjan Mijailović told UEFA.com that his team are ready "to leave our hearts on the pitch" as they look to register their first points at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship.
Having qualified for the finals ahead of Germany, Romania and Hungary, Zoran Marić's side had high hopes ahead of their arrival in Estonia but suffering a 3-0 reverse to France and having a man sent off in the Group B opener was not part of the plan.
"We were all very angry ourselves after the match," Mijailović told UEFA.com. "We really didn't look good against France. OK, they are considered as one of the favourites but that was no excuse for our display. This tournament is not finished yet, however, and we still have chance to reach the semi-finals which is what will motivate us."
Semi-finalists in 2009 and again last year, Serbia have been in a similar position before in the pre-elite round qualifying phase when they drew with Lithuania before going down to the Czech Republic. They subsequently rescued themselves with a victory against Israel before going on to impress in the subsequent phase.
"We showed in the elite round that we can play good football, especially in the 2-2 draw against Germany," Mijailović explained. "After our first encounter here we talked a lot and agreed in the dressing room that we would do our best to leave a much better impression in the next two matches. We agreed to leave our hearts on the pitch and to show everyone why are we here."
The FK Crvena Zvezda defensive midfielder made his senior international debut in a friendly defeat also against France at the end of May but admits that the experience of competing at the U19 finals in Estonia has been the highlight of his career to date.
"This is a big thing for me," he said. "I've never played in such a big competiton. It's an honour to represent my country here. Wearing the captain's armband is also giving me a high amount of responsibility and I am trying to have a positive influence on my team-mates while keeping their motivation high during the matches."
Mijailović is now hoping to lead by example in Serbia's encounter against England in Rakvere on Friday, a game that will have a telling influence on their pre-tournament ambition of finishing as one of the top six teams in Europe.
"We watched the 1-1 draw between England and Croatia and we know that they are both strong teams," he said. "We think we can win the next two matches and reach the semi-finals. We know what we have to do now and we will be ready."
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