"We deserved this title this time," said Netherlands coach Albert Stuivenberg after their 5-2 final defeat of Germany, Steffen Freund reflecting on a "really important experience for my boys."
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Two years after his Netherlands side lost in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final to Germany, Albert Stuivenberg saw his team defeat their neighbours 5-2 in Novi Sad, after twice trailing in the first half, and said: "We played a very mature game." Steffen Freund concurred that the Dutch were worthy winners as a result of their impressive display after the interval and was keen to emphasise a host of positives his players can take from the tournament.
Albert Stuivenberg, Netherlands coach
We needed half-time to set things straight. The belief was there, of course, and in this game we scored at the right moments – after 1-0 down, and 2-1 down – and that was very important for us. We did very well in the second half what we did not do well in the first half. We defended well, the transition was very good, but in the first half we had problems with that. In the second half we were up and did not give any more big chances away. We deserved this title this time, we were very close two years ago and this is our revenge.
In the end we are very happy with the result and the way we played the second half. And it showed we played a very mature game. They have improved this season in understanding what it takes to win games, and when you are in front what it takes to keep the ball in possession and not let the opponents come back into the game again.
[In the post-match celebrations] they had to keep me in the air, because my knee is not very good! But the celebrations were deserved and they had to go crazy over there – and they did a great job! It's our party now, they have to enjoy it.
Steffen Freund, Germany coach
Now is the moment to be disappointed because winning and losing is part of football. We came back strongly after the first defeat against Holland and now we lose in the final, but I know it's a really important experience for my boys. We have played two knockout games and that experience will help us. Congratulations to Holland; in the end they deserved to win. Also, congratulations to my boys because they worked really hard to come back from that first loss to Holland.
The first goal from Holland was fantastic play in central midfield. We knew before that they were really strong there. They keep the ball and then bring No10 or No6 into position – they did that for the first goal. The No6 was a really good player for Holland today, we knew before he was really quick and good in one-on-one situations. We were 2-1 up but two minutes later it was 2-2. Maybe in the end that was the turning point because in the second half Holland were the better team. If it was 2-1 at half-time maybe we would have had a good chance to win the game.
These five games have been a fantastic experience for my team. The Iniestas, the Xavis, they have played in these games. That's why it's really important.