The four coaches who have guided their teams into the U19 semi-finals all declared themselves happy with progress in Georgia, but all expect stiffer challenges ahead.
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There will be a new name on the UEFA European Under-19 Championship roll of honour this year with none of the four semi-finalists having previously lifted the trophy. Ahead of the last-four ties on Wednesday, the coaches of Portugal, the Netherlands, England and the Czech Republic were united in one belief – while progress so far has been more than satisfactory, the real hard work still lies ahead.
Hélio Sousa, coach
We've got better with each game in this tournament – we've kept growing. We're looking forward to this semi-final; it was our first target and we've been able to achieve it. It will be a great occasion for our players, one they will get to experience only one or two times, maybe, in their youth. We're very happy with what they're doing. Their mentality in every game has been right and they're ready for the next step in this competition.
Maarten Stekelenburg, coach
We're happy with our progress during the tournament. We've become more of a team in every game and we're pleased to be in the semi-final. We're looking forward to the game. Of course, we've followed Portugal, who were the strongest team in their group – that's why they finished top. They're a very competitive team. We've done our homework, we know their strengths and we will be prepared.
Keith Downing, coach
We're gathering momentum. We're very pleased not just with results but the performances. It was a tough group to come out of but we've won three games so we're very pleased with that. It'll be a very tough game; we were very impressed with the Czech Republic against Georgia, they handled a big game and a big, very patriotic crowd very well. We're very impressed with their professionalism and organisation so it'll be a very difficult game, but it's one we look forward to.
Jan Suchopárek, coach
It's a great pleasure for us to be in the semi-finals. We're really looking forward to playing against England – the country that gave birth to football. We have huge respect for them; England proved that they're one of the favourites for this tournament during the group stage. They're very well organised and have great individual players with good skills so it will be a great experience for us to play a huge game like this against opponents of this quality.