England CP boss Andy Smith says his squad should be proud of their achievements at the World Championship in Argentina.
The Three Lions missed out on a place in the final after suffering a 3-1 semi-final reverse against Iran on Wednesday evening.
But the head coach believes on another day, it could’ve been a different outcome and that he’s seen more than enough from his squad to believe there’s a bright future ahead.
- IFCPF CP World Championship
- Third place game
- 6pm BST, Saturday 23 September 2017
- San Luis, Argentina
“Leading up to the game, the boys have been excellent and playing at a different level to previously,” said Smith, who took over as England boss earlier this year from his previous job with Scotland’s CP team.
“We had some good chances to go in front, but then gave away an easy goal that you just can’t legislate for.
“That set us back and then they got a second goal quickly afterwards, but I thought the players did great to come back from that and we were incredible as we scored and had even more chances.
“The players gave absolutely everything for the team, but I’ve been involved in a lot of semi-finals in my career and sometimes you have to go through this to come out the other side better.
“That’s one of the reasons that I took the job on because I see great potential in the squad to go and really challenge the top teams in the world.
“There’s still progress to be made and a lot of learning to do but that’s what excites me, because we’re nowhere near the finished article and we will get better.
“Iran were silver medalists at the Paralympics and on another day we could’ve won the game, so we really are getting closer to those teams.
“The squad have been fantastic and should be very proud of what they’ve achieved so far.”
Smith and his squad now have a final few days in San Luis before they take on Russia on Saturday evening to compete for third place.
And the former Dunfermline Athletic, Kilmarnock and Raith Rovers player believes it will be their toughest test yet as he feels Russia should really be playing in the final itself after losing to Ukraine on penalties in the other semi-final.
“They are one of the best teams in the world on their day so we know it’s going to be very difficult for us,” he added.
“They should’ve won their semi-final against Ukraine on Wednesday but we’ll go and try to compete and make it as difficult for them as we can.
“We’ve tried to play a more attacking style against the better sides, but that brings risks.
“With the players we have in the squad, that’s going to be the best way going forward and I think the other teams have seen us in this tournament and had a lot more respect for us than in previous tournaments.”