Peacock ready for semi-final test
By Nicholas Veevers in Novi Sad.
Wednesday, 11 May, 2011
Head Coach expects a close game with Holland on Thursday.
Head Coach John Peacock takes his England U17 side into European Championship semi-final action on Thursday morning, as the Young Lions take on Holland in Novi Sad.
Peacock was in charge last year when England went on to lift the European title in Liechtenstein and now finds himself two games away from retaining the Championship.
He isn’t taking anything for granted though, as England come up against a Dutch team who topped Group B and have yet to concede a goal in the competition.
“Everyone’s very buoyant after getting to the semi-final,” said Peacock.
“This is their first experience of a semi-final, aside from Nathaniel (Chalobah, who played in 2010) and we’re sitting well.
“We’ve met (Holland) a few times over the years, we played them in Belgium in the group stages in 2007 and then in Germany two years ago.
“They’re always extremely close encounters and I don’t envisage it being any different tomorrow.
“We’ll know what to expect from them, and vice versa. There is familiarity there, so it will be the best team on the day who progresses.
“I think it will be a very good game of football between two good teams.”
England confirmed their place in the last four on Monday with victory over Serbia, whilst Albert Stuivenberg’s Dutch team had won their first two games so were able to rotate their squad a little in their final group match with Czech Republic.
They still managed to keep a clean sheet though, and that’s a record that Peacock hopes to break in Novi Sad.
“It’s very impressive, any team who can go into games without conceding has a great starting point,” he admitted.
“We just hope that we can score one or two against them and put them under a bit more pressure.”
Peacock feels the mood in his squad is about right for this stage of a competition and knows that whatever the outcome of Thursday's encounter, it will be an experience that all of the squad can take away with them and use to their advantage in the future.
“We’re mentally and physically in good shape,” he said.
“The result on Friday against Denmark tested the belief of the players. We always believed that we were good enough to reach the semi-final, but they had self-belief in themselves and showed that with their result on Monday.
“In terms of a learning experience, they’ve come from a difficult situation and come out on top, which shows a great amount of character and it’s an experience that will be invaluable for them going forward.”
Thursday’s game will be shown live on Eurosport.