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Larsson praises Slovakia as debutants march on

Sweden coach Roland Larsson graciously hailed Slovakia's young side and their passionate fans after the Group A debutants drew 0-0 to both qualify for the semi-finals.

Sweden coach Roland Larsson celebrates reaching the semi-finals
Sweden coach Roland Larsson celebrates reaching the semi-finals ©Sportsfile

Sweden coach Roland Larsson praised Slovakia and their "fantastic" fans after his team's goalless draw with the hosts in Zilina took them both through to the semi-finals.

With third place and qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup assured, Austria coach Hermann Stadler bestowed plaudits on his squad and staff, while Heinz Moser was left "devastated" by Switzerland's first-half display in the 2-1 defeat that consigned them to the wooden spoon in Group A.

Roland Larsson, Sweden coach

We always try to win our games and I think the spectators could see that both teams were going for the victory. It was a good game, a tough game, and we are very happy that we have one point. We had one goal: to learn a lot from this tournament because it was our first, and then we had the aim of going to the World Cup, which was a dream come true.

I don't know what to say. There was a really fantastic atmosphere [today]. I said that would be the case when the draw took place. To meet the host nation is great because they have lot of supporters and in the last game at this stage, it was brilliant. The fans like football a lot, you can see that, because they were celebrating with the boys. Both rookies are in the semi-finals. Slovakia have produced a really good tournament.

Ladislav Pecko, Slovakia coach
Of course, all the pressure has been lifted. At the moment, positive emotions are prevailing, but, on the other hand, as we are now finished, I am thinking about how will I prepare the players for the next game. We wanted to score a goal in the first half and decide the match. We had the intention of being the proactive side and trying to create scoring opportunities so that our opponents would have to open up. We knew they are physically stronger than us, which proved to be the case in the second half when we dropped off the pace and were running out of energy.

They finished the match without any problems. It will be crucial to recover well now and get our freshness back. As I said at the press conference, this tournament is very difficult for us. Up till now, we hadn't played three tough matches in a row at this level with such committment and results. We will have less energy maybe, therefore we have to count on the enthusiasm and support from the fans.

Hermann Stadler, Austria coach

I have to give my team a big compliment, and the staff too, because of what they've managed to do in the last one and a half months. They made it possible for the boys to be fit all the time so they could give their best – I take my hat off to them. We fought hard for this victory, but it was deserved. We performed very well, especially in the first half.

From the beginning, we were very aggresive, very dominant and did a lot of running. We scored two quick goals, so we were able to make our play easier after that. But in the second half the Swiss came back and pushed a lot. They had to risk it. And then with the quick free-kick things became a bit dicey, but we had to take our chance and deserved qualification for the World Cup. 

Heinz Moser, Switzerland coach
This is a good experience for all the players here. I hope and I believe they will draw their own conclusions and take this with them for the future. We didn't plan to perform like this. Everything we wanted to do on the pitch, we didn't do. We were not aggresive, we did not shut down the space. We invited the Austrians onto us.

Then we conceded two goals, goals that you should not concede at such a tournament. That's why I was devastated at half-time. I showed my disappointment to the team at half-time and the reaction in the second half was good. But this is football – it is not sufficient to only play one good half if you want to achieve something here.

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