Monday, 09 May, 2011
Head Coach happy with his side's response.
By Nicholas Veevers at FK Indjija.
England U17s Head Coach John Peacock took his side into Europe’s last four and sealed qualification for this summer’s FIFA World Cup on Monday, after seeing the Young Lions complete a convincing victory over their Serbian hosts.
The outcome of Group A was still entirely up in the air going into today’s final round of matches, with only Denmark confirmed in the semi-final to leave Serbia, France and England fighting it out for the last place and the two remaining World Cup spots.
England knew that any win against Serbia would be enough to secure their place in June’s extravaganza in Mexico but if they wanted to reach the semi-final here, they would need Denmark to prevent France from winning in the other match.
Three early goals in Indjija from Brad Smith and Hallam Hope (2) put England on their way, but it was only midway through the second half when news reached the camp that Denmark had opened the scoring against France. That was how it remained, so the Young Lions continue to have a chance to defend the title which they won last year when they face Holland in Novi Sad on Thursday afternoon.
"We had to make sure we won today, to secure qualification for the World Cup and that's what we've done,” said Peacock.
"That was very important to us first and foremost, and we've done that and obviously in the other game, Denmark have done a fantastic job against France to help us out so we're really looking forward to the semi-final now.”
After conceding two early goals against the Danes last week, Peacock had made sure his players were ready to start at a fast pace against Serbia and that was exactly what he got as England found themselves three goals up with less than a quarter of the game gone.
"We started well, which is exactly what we didn't do against Denmark and it showed today that if we do get in and about teams relatively quickly, we have the quality there to finish the job off,” he added.
"So I'm delighted with them and we’re all looking forward to meeting Holland in the semi-final.
"We do have some information on them already, so we will look at it over the next couple of days and I'm sure it will be a fantastic game.”
The one downside from the game was an injury picked up by midfielder Nick Powell in the first half which required him to be stretchered from the pitch.
However, after examination at the ground and time for the injury to settle down, Powell was able to leave the stadium unaided and with his team-mates back to their base in Novi Sad.
"The injury seems a little bit better than we first thought, which is great news,” revealed Peacock.
"We will take a look at it and see what transpires tomorrow.
"It was a shame because Nick played a great part in the first half.
"All 18 players have been important though and now we go on to the semi-final.”
The semi-final will take place on Thursday 12 May, kicking-off at 10.30am at the Karadjordge Stadium in Novi Sad. It's also being screened live on Eurosport.