Battling Belarus receive high praise

Belarus coach Georgi Kondratyev praised his team for using "every last drop of energy" to book a place at next year's Olympic Games at the expense of the Czech Republic.

With a place at next year's Olympic Games in the bag, Belarus coach Georgi Kondratyev hailed his team's performance throughout the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Denmark.

Their crowning glory came with Saturday's play-off win against the Czech Republic, achieved thanks to Yegor Filipenko's 88th-minute goal. Beaten coach Jakub Dovalil was determined to draw on the positives of his side's finals' experience despite seeing them fall short of their goal.

Georgi Kondratyev, Belarus coach
It was a really hard game today, what with the teams playing for a place at the Olympics. I could see my team left every last drop of energy out on the pitch. Now I am just very happy that we have won a place at the Olympics for Belarus.

It was very difficult to watch. In the first half things didn't quite go as we wanted, but in the second half we regrouped, and we played very well. We could have turned the match in our favour even before we did, but even so, whatever the score was, a win is a win and we are happy. I knew that the Czechs' game would be physical and that it would be a physical match, but my players did well and did not lose the battle; they deserved to win today.

I think we have had a very successful tournament. The team battled in every game, but also played good football, and I think they deserve praise.

Jakub Dovalil, Czech Republic coach
I think it was within our capability to win the match. Unfortunately, [Lukáš Vácha's] red card had a big influence on the game. After that, it's very difficult to find more energy in what was our fifth game of the tournament. The Belarus team had more luck, and they won. The Belarusians were more tired, which made our performance look better, but today it was all about psychology, and unfortunately we failed on that front.

The positive was that we qualified for the next round from a tough group. We had good games, so that was an encouraging aspect for the future. Unfortunately we failed in the semi-final, and in this last match for qualification for the Olympics.