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France still in hope, not expectation

Published: Friday 6 July 2012, 21.40CET
"It would be a nice surprise if we ended up with the trophy," said Pierre Mankowski as France reached the semi-finals, with Noel Blake pleased with England's latest showing.
France still in hope, not expectation
Pierre Mankowski and Noel Blake both enjoyed their day's work ©Sportsfile
Published: Friday 6 July 2012, 21.40CET

France still in hope, not expectation

"It would be a nice surprise if we ended up with the trophy," said Pierre Mankowski as France reached the semi-finals, with Noel Blake pleased with England's latest showing.

Pierre Mankowski was keen to play down France's title chances as they booked their place in the semi-finals of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship with a win against Estonia, while Noel Blake felt his England side had done well to defeat a decent Serbia outfit.

FRANCE 1-0 CROATIA
Pierre Mankowski, France coach
It wasn't an easy match for us. It was hot outside and Croatia are a good side. Maintaining our rhythm and standard of play was tough, but we managed to dominate and created some good chances to score. Was I worried that we failed to take so many chances? No. I knew we would score eventually. And after all that, I am satisfied with the result and with my team's play.

Since we are sure of a semi-final place, I will probably change a few things for our last group match. Do I think we are one of the favourites to win the tournament? No – definitely not. Spain and Portugal are, not us. It would be a nice surprise if we ended up with the trophy.

Dinko Jeličić, Croatia coach
France dominated for the whole match and probably deserved to win, although we conceded an unlucky goal. We didn't play as well as in the opening match against England, and that is the main reason why France were so dominant. They were favourites, but we helped them a lot with the way we played. We made a lot of mistakes and they managed to create a lot of chances, and finally to score and win. We spent most of the match defending, and that's down to many mistakes – technical mistakes. We lost the ball too easily so France had better possession. That's why I am disappointed – we didn't play as well as we can.

In the last match we will go for a win. We still have a chance of reaching the semi-finals, but our primary goal is a position which takes us to the World Cup. For that, we need a point in the last match, but we will try to play our best level and win that game.

SERBIA 1-2 ENGLAND
Zoran Marić, Serbia coach
Unlike the first match, I can have no complaints about my side today. We played well from the very beginning. We had our chances, but we did not get anything from them and this always gets punished by a strong opponent like England. We had four players in our team born in 1994, and that showed in the last 15 minutes.

This team qualified for the finals playing like we did today. We are missing two players who were very important in qualifying, though. Our main goal now is to qualify for the World Cup, and we will do everything we can to make it. We will do all we can to lift their spirits.

Noel Blake, England coach
I'm still disappointed, if I'm honest, about the opposition having too many strikes at goal. That is something that we need to improve on for the rest of the tournament, but I was pleased with the way we played as well. I thought we played some really good football, obviously culminating in a terrific counterattacking goal. If you look at the initial thing – a terrific block defensively and then we've countered with some clever play between the front players and a great strike. However, Serbia were a very good side and they can count themselves very unlucky not to have at least got a point.

I thought they at least deserved that for the way they approached the game, but as I said, I felt the game that we played could just about take you through to a victory. There is more than one way to win a football match. We have scored two goals and they have scored one. At the end of the day, that's not the be all and end all, but I think we played some very good football, particularly in the second half, on the counterattack.

Last updated: 06/07/12 22.11CET

Related information

http://www.uefa.com/under19/news/newsid=1839461.html#france+still+hope+expectation

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