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Netherlands and Ukraine full of belief

Published: Thursday 7 October 2010, 16.20CET
Netherlands coach Cor Pot insisted his Under-21 side "belong in the European Championship finals" as they prepare to host Ukraine in the play-offs in what is a rematch of the 2006 final.
by Berend Scholten & Bogdan Buga
Netherlands and Ukraine full of belief
Georginio Wijnaldum celebrates his goal in the 2-1 win against Spain last November ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

NetherlandsUkraine

Goals scored22
 
16
Attempts on target140
 
85
Attempts off target22
 
42
Corners62
 
33
Fouls committed145
 
145
Yellow cards18
 
26
Red Cards2
 
0
Published: Thursday 7 October 2010, 16.20CET

Netherlands and Ukraine full of belief

Netherlands coach Cor Pot insisted his Under-21 side "belong in the European Championship finals" as they prepare to host Ukraine in the play-offs in what is a rematch of the 2006 final.

There is no shortage of belief in the Netherlands and Ukraine camps ahead of their UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off in what is a rematch of the 2006 showpiece.

It would really be a shame if our good qualification campaign, the way we left Spain in our wake, all came to nothing
Cor Pot

"We belong in the European Championship finals," said Netherlands coach Cor Pot. "If we can stay fully focused I'm convinced we will beat Ukraine. It would really be a shame if our good qualification campaign, the way we left Spain in our wake, all came to nothing." Indeed, the Netherlands won seven out of seven in Group 4 before, with progress already assured, losing 2-1 in Spain last month.

They can also call upon happy memories of fixtures against Ukraine at this level having prevailed 3-0 when these sides met in the 2006 final in Porto – even if they had lost 2-1 in the group stage. Yet Pot is focused on the here and now; starting with the first leg in Rotterdam on Saturday. "I hope the fans, in what I expect will be a sold-out stadium, will get behind us from the first minute," said the 59-year-old. "Then it will be up to us to finish the job on the pitch."

They must do so without Siem de Jong after the AFC Ajax midfielder injured his hamstring in training on Tuesday – NEC Nijmegen's John Goossens has been drafted in. Ukraine have problems of their own, with first-choice goalkeeper Anton Kanibolotskiy and defender Oleksandr Matveyeyev ruled out, while Yevhen Konoplyanka and Yevgen Selin are both doubtful.

Ever-present as unbeaten Ukraine topped Group 8 ahead of Belgium and France, Kanibolotskiy will be especially missed. Coach Pavlo Iakovenko admits he is undecided about whether Dmytro Nepogodov or Denys Boyko will deputise, though he is clearer about the bigger picture. "Our players are in good shape," he told UEFA.com. "Of course, there's some fatigue but we are confident and ready to battle."

Iakovenko is determined to "play for victory in Rotterdam" and earn an advantage to take into Tuesday's return in Kyiv, even if he is wary of the threat posed by forwards Luuk de Jong and Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Counterpart Pot has reservations of his own. "Ukraine can be lethal when you make a mistake," he said. "They have already proven that they can attack quickly, especially away from home." The Jong Oranje might not have it all their own way this time around.

Last updated: 07/10/10 18.06CET

http://www.uefa.com/under21/season=2011/matches/round=2000007/match=2003232/prematch/preview/index.html#netherlands+repeat

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