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Mental strength the key, says Sousa

Hélio Sousa said Portugal's "quality and strong mentality" had brought them through on penalties, Serbia's Veljko Paunović congratulating "phenomenal opponents".

Mental strength the key, says Sousa
Mental strength the key, says Sousa ©UEFA.com

Hélio Sousa, Portugal coach
It was a great game. The players gave it everything they had left, and we got the result on penalties. I always tell my players it's capability, not luck – it's quality and a strong mentality to win on penalties. We had our chances and so did Serbia, although I think we were a little stronger over the game. Serbia played a great game too and our victory is a little more deserved in that case because they were magnificent too.

Both teams played to win, they [attacked] and it was down to the goalkeepers that it was 0-0. The game brought us to penalties and we were capable of coming through the penalties. We were strong and our keeper was strong too. Our players deserve our thanks; they struggle and fight all through the youth teams, and they deserve what they've done here.

The final is going to be a big match and unfortunately it's finished very late tonight. With extra time and penalties we won't have much time to recover physically but the motivation of being in the final is worthwhile. It's a reward for the work the Portuguese Football Federation have done with the Under-19 team, not just this year but in previous years – this is the fourth time in five years we've been in the European Championship finals. Germany will be strong and tough opponents but hopefully we will win – and make history.

Veljko Paunović, Serbia coach
I am very satisfied with what we've achieved. We did our best to defend the title we won last year. This was a two-year project. This semi-final was a phenomenal match with phenomenal opponents, whom I wish all the best in the final. This was a true sporting battle to the very end, what is one of the reasons for this tournament.

We gave it our all, we played until the end. Penalties decided it, and that's how it is in football. I think we've represented our country in the best light with our football and attitude on and off the pitch. Serbia has a great Under-19 team which we have to take care of and further their careers so this will be a great experience for all. 

Possession ebbed and flowed, as did the momentum for both teams. The four best countries in the tournament deservedly reached the semis. In this match we've seen two teams with similar quality, with similar footballing philosophy. Football was the victor in the end, together with our joint attitude toward the game. Congratulations to Portugal for the win. When one loses against such opponents in such a manner, one cannot bear a grudge.

[The World Cup] was our primary objective. This is a first in the history of this national team. It is a big deal for us, and we've done something historic, just like last year we made history by winning the championship. That was one goal, but most importantly for this team is the progression to the A team. We are on the right path. All of the players could one day be in contention for the A national team.