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Sandokhadze rates Georgia prospects

Published: Saturday 27 July 2013, 10.35CET
Defender Nika Sandokhadze sees a bright future for Georgia despite their failure to win a game on their UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals debut in Lithuania.
by Dmitri Mamykin & Türker Tozar
from Marijampole

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Published: Saturday 27 July 2013, 10.35CET

Sandokhadze rates Georgia prospects

Defender Nika Sandokhadze sees a bright future for Georgia despite their failure to win a game on their UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals debut in Lithuania.

Georgia's first appearance at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship ultimately failed to deliver a coveted semi-final place but the prospects of future progress are among the positives taken by defender Nika Sandokhadze.

I am sure the experience we gained here is very important. Hopefully it will help us looking ahead to the U21s and, who knows, maybe the senior team
Nika Sandokhadze

The debutants' slim hopes of making the last four received a bonus when Avto Endeladze put them into a 1-0 lead with three minutes gone in their final Group B encounter against Turkey. Things began to unravel, however, after Okan Deniz's quick double for the 2004 runners-up and Nika Katcharava's subsequent penalty miss. Katcharava did manage a 50th-minute equaliser but it was not to be Georgia's day, Recep Niyaz and Cenk Şahin giving Okan Buruk's team a 4-2 win.

"We began very well and scored the opening goal," Sandokhadze explained. "We did exactly what our coach had asked us before the game, but unfortunately we let Turkey score an equaliser and everything went wrong afterwards."

As well as depending on a victory themselves, Georgia were also relying on Serbia doing them a favour by beating France in the group's other game, which ended 1-1. "We knew everything that was going on in the other match as our suspended captain Bachana Arabuli was following that game from the stands," Sandokhadze said. "The most important thing was our own performance, however.

"We felt we were ready for this Turkey team. We knew they would give 100% to win after losing their first two matches. For them this match was very important and in the end they succeeded in beating us."

The defeat meant Georgia bowed out as Group B's bottom side with one point from three games but the FC Torpedo Kutaise defender said that just being present at the finals in Lithuania was reason enough to be thankful. 

"For us it's a great achievement to be among the best eight teams in Europe," he said. "This has been very important for our country as for the first time in our history since independence the team has qualified for the Under-19s. I am sure the experience we gained here is very important. Hopefully it will help us looking ahead to the U21s and, who knows, maybe the senior team as well."

Last updated: 04/09/13 21.29CET

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