Francesco Lovric told his Austria team-mates to "keep their chins up" in the wake of the defeat by Germany, with their main goals for the finals already accomplished.
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The disappointment at the manner of their semi-final exit was still raw, yet captain Francesco Lovric believes Austria should take considerable pride in their efforts at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship.
A dominant Germany proved far too strong for Austria in the first semi-final at the Szusza Ferenc Stadion, inflicting a 4-0 defeat on Andreas Heraf's side, yet Lovric was able to find some stirring words to lift sprits in the dressing room afterwards. "I told the players to keep their chins up because we reached our goals," the defender told UEFA.com. "We're disappointed now but we can be optimistic as we look forward."
Firstly, however, Austria must digest that Germany loss, and Lovric echoed the view of his coach when identifying its main cause. "We showed Germany too much respect at the beginning and they were better than us in every area of the pitch," the centre-back explained. "They deserved to win. I don't know why we showed them so much respect; maybe because they have lots of players who play in the Bundesliga while most of us are still in youth football."
Austria had won their first two Group A matches, against Hungary and Israel, by scoring three goals in each, but slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Portugal in their final game in the section – although Lovric discounted the idea that that result had halted their momentum. "I don't think the loss against Portugal had any influence," he added. "We analysed that match and prepared for Germany as we would for any game."
Those preparations have paid off with a place in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, something that Lovric is already eagerly anticipating. "Our main goal was to qualify for the World Cup and advancing to the semi-finals was a big success for us. Now we can look to the future. This has been a very good tournament; you don't have the chance to play a finals like this very often. It's been a great experience for us as young players."