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Afellay remains steadfast in qualification belief

"If you don't believe in a positive outcome you shouldn't play in the match," said Ibrahim Afellay as he pondered the situation facing the Netherlands in the last set of Group B fixtures.

Ibrahim Afellay speaking to UEFA.com
Ibrahim Afellay speaking to UEFA.com ©UEFA.com

Netherlands midfielder Ibrahim Afellay says the Oranje "have a lot of belief" that they can turn around their situation in Group B and qualify for the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals.

The odds on the Dutch progressing are hardly favourable following successive defeats – they must win by at least a two-goal margin against Portugal tonight and hope Denmark lose to Germany. The 26-year-old FC Barcelona player nevertheless says the team will do "everything we can to still go through" to pay back their sizeable contingent of fans in Ukraine.

UEFA.com: What can you say about the Netherlands' performance against Germany?

Ibrahim Afellay: We started well, and in the first 20 minutes we had the better of the game and the best chances. It was only after Germany scored that it went wrong.

UEFA.com: What is the feeling in the squad now?

Afellay: We still have the possibility of going through, so the boys are very focused. We have to grab this chance with both hands, and we know exactly what we have to do – win by at least a two-goal margin and then hope that Germany win.

UEFA.com: What is your opinion of Portugal, several of whose players you know from the Spanish Liga?

Afellay: Portugal are a top team. Individually they have a lot of quality, and up front especially they have a lot of power, speed and goalscoring potential. But then so do we. It should be an intense match because they are also playing to go through. It could be a spectacular encounter.

UEFA.com: How do you expect Portugal to play?

Afellay: A draw could be enough for Portugal, but I don't think they have a team that can play for one. It will be an open match.

UEFA.com: Group B was deemed to be the most difficult to call and it has certainly lived up to expectations, with every team still able to progress or be eliminated. Do players think of such scenarios?

Afellay: During the match you're only busy with one thing and that is to make sure you win the game, in our case by at least two goals. However, I'm sure the people on the sidelines will keep the players informed [of what's happening in the other game].

UEFA.com: Apart from the fact you want to qualify from the group, do you also feel that you have to make it up to the supporters?

Afellay: Of course. For us it's very disappointing that we have lost both matches so far, but I can understand how much our fans – who have stood behind us all the way – are also upset. So we want to do everything we can to still go through for them.

UEFA.com: Do you pick up on the atmosphere generated by the fans during the game? And how do you feel right before a match?

Afellay: When I'm on the pitch I block out all other emotions and just stay focused on getting the best possible result. But standing in the tunnel I feel the adrenaline of wanting to play in the match so badly. That's why you do it, that's what it's all about.

UEFA.com: How strongly do you believe that it will work out against Portugal and that you will progress to the last eight?

Afellay: We have a lot of belief, of course. If you don't believe in a positive outcome you shouldn't play in the match. Despite losing twice we still have a chance of going through and that says something – maybe it was meant to be like this.